Sustainability is an important topic as it ensures a company’s long-term viability and performance. HyEx is one of our most important projects to offer greener blasting solutions. To understand it, we talked with Pablo Wallach, our Vice president of Innovation & Marketing.
How did this project start?
For many years, Enaex has been aiming to reduce its carbon footprint. Our efforts have allowed us to be in the top 10% of chemical industries worlwide according to the 2022 Dow Jones Sustainability index. But we want to do more.
Ammonia is our main raw material. We use it to produce the Ammonium Nitrate for our blasting services and exports. Today, the ammonia that we import represents about 90% of our total carbon footprint in the production process. If we want to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of our production process, ammonia is where we need to focus.
What is the HyEx project?
Ammonia is currently produced from gas through a process called steam methane reforming. This is by large the most common way to produce ammonia today.
But there is another way to produce hydrogen: splitting water thanks to electricity in oxygen and hydrogen, this process is called electrolysis. If you use green electricity to do so, you will get green hydrogen. The process is not new at all but requires a lot of energy.
Thanks to the cost reduction of renewable power, the implementation of this process should be feasible in the coming years. The North of Chile is recognized as one of the best places in the world to produce that green ammonia in the future, because of the excellent solar radiation we have in the Atacama Desert.
HyEx is a project to replace our current grey ammonia imports by locally produced green ammonia with the use of renewable energies in Chile.
What are its benefits for us and our clients?
It will decarbonize drastically our production process enabling the mining industry to have a greener blasting process and therefore reducing the carbon footprints of their products.
We will stop the importation of gas and generate a new Industry for Chile, based on renewable energy, generating a positive impact in the environment and society.
At the end of the project we will be able to reduce about 1MM equivalent tons per year of CO2.
What are our deadlines?
According to the experts this should be feasible by the end of the decade but because as we don’t want to wait so long, we have divided it in two stages.
Phase 1 for 2025:
We are doing all our efforts to make an important first step and produce 18 000 metric tons of green ammonia by using green hydrogen produced by our partner ENGIE from a 26 MW electrolysis plant.
Phase 2 for 2030:
We are planning to produce about 700,000 metric tons of green ammonia coming from a 2800 MW electrolysis plan to feedstock our plant and enable the export of green energy to the rest of the world.