US geotechnical firm Eden GeoPower has secured funding assistance from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to help advance a landmark initiative to unlock the potential for geologic hydrogen production in the Sultanate of Oman targeting peridotite rock in the Semail Ophiolite.

Last September, the American firm signed an agreement with Oman’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals designed to enable it to pilot its proprietary technology in enhancing the production of geologic hydrogen at peridotite-rich rock sites in the country. The goal is to accelerate the production of geologic hydrogen and harness this zero-carbon fuel resource in support of the global energy transition.

Geologic hydrogen is produced when water interacts with iron-rich rocks such as peridotite. By drilling and injecting water directly into such iron-rich rocks, the naturally occurring process of hydrogen production is stimulated. According to Eden, around 2 – 4 kg of hydrogen can be produced per cubic metre of peridotite rock through this process.

However, to produce commercial quantities of geologic hydrogen through this process, Eden has been seeking to deploy its patented Electrical Reservoir Stimulation (ERS) technology to crack rocks and increase their permeability. The technology, it says, has a far lower carbon footprint than conventional hydraulic fracturing.

Announcing its grant to the US tech firm, the Department of Energy said: “Eden GeoPower is developing a way to apply its electrical reservoir stimulation techniques to increase geologic hydrogen production through testing their stimulation methods on peridotite core samples from multiple sites to be selected in the Semail Ophiolite in Oman. The company's electrical stimulation method could produce significant surface area enhancement while also increasing the local temperature to promote reaction conditions suitable for hydrogen production. Experimentally testing how peridotite rock types respond to electrical stimulation could support identifying the optimal conditions and geologic formations for stimulation.”

Significantly, Eden GeoPower was among 16 projects that received the DOE’s funding support for initiatives aimed at accelerating the natural subsurface generation of hydrogen. It marks the first time that the US government has competitively selected teams to research this kind of technology.

Oman hosts one of the largest occurrences of peridotite, which forms part of the Semail Ophiolite – a massive ridge extending some 100,000 sq kilometres across north Oman and into neighbouring UAE. Once part of the oceanic crust, it was obducted on to the Arabian Peninsula due to tectonic forces around 95 million years ago.

According to experts, geologic hydrogen has the potential to make an important contribution to the growth of clean energy resources necessary to meet the global Net Zero target by 2050. Every 1 cubic kilometre of iron-rich rock can yield about 5 million tonnes of geologic hydrogen per year providing effective permeability enhancement solutions can be developed and commercialised.

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