The wheels are turning on conversion of the Nebraska Public Power District’s Sheldon Station to eliminate coal as a fuel source in one of its generating units, using hydrogen instead.

At the October NPPD Board of Directors meeting, two agreements were approved – one to develop a preliminary boiler design and a second to help NPPD with other engineering work required to convert Sheldon’s Unit 2 boiler to burn hydrogen, NPPD spokesman Mark Becker said.

Hydrogen is a by-product of the process used by Monolith Materials in manufacturing Carbon Black. The Monolith facility is being built south of Sheldon Station near Hallam, Becker said.

“Eventually, Unit 2 will be the largest boiler in the country to burn hydrogen to generate electricity,” NPPD Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Kent said.

Unit 2 at Sheldon Station generates roughly 110 megawatts of electricity, about 16% of that produced by one of the two units at the Gerald Gentleman Station south of Sutherland, Becker said.

This is phase 1 of the boiler conversion project at Sheldon Station, Kent said.

Phase 1 is preliminary boiler design, permitting technical assistance, preliminary supporting system design, consultant support, and NPPD project engineering and management.

Phase 2 will deal with detailed engineering of the boiler unit.

Phase 3 will be engineering, procurement and construction of the new boiler.

Babcock & Wilcox, the original Sheldon Station Unit 2 boiler manufacturer, was selected to develop the Phase 1 preliminary boiler design, Becker said.

Sargent & Lundy was selected to perform Phase 1 technical assistance, which will include developing draft permits for the boiler unit, developing design and general arrangement drawings to allow for separate hydrogen and natural gas supply lines from the Monolith facility to Sheldon Station, as well as developing a preliminary cost estimate for the project, Becker said.

Monolith Materials will reimburse NPPD for the costs associated with the Sheldon Station Unit 2 boiler conversion project.