HALLAM, Neb.—Monolith Materials is teaming up with the Nebraska Public Power District and the governor of Nebraska to build a new plant that uses a cleaner process to manufacture carbon black.
It will be the first new large scale carbon black plant built in the U.S. in decades, according to Robert Hanson, Monolith's co-founder and chief commercial officer.
Unlike other sites that rely on the conventional process of oil or coal tar as a feedstock, the new facility will use a safe, patented and environmentally friendly process to produce carbon black, he said.
Redwood City, Calif.-based Monolith, which operates a carbon black plant in the San Francisco Bay area, makes its carbon black with natural gas as its feedstock. A co-product of the company's manufacturing process is plentiful hydrogen, which NPPD intends to use to generate electric energy.
Design and engineering work on the plant began earlier this year. The company anticipates it will break ground on the facility, which will be located adjacent to NPPD's Sheldon Station plant in Hallam, in 2016, and it will be fully operational in 2019.
Meanwhile, NPPD plans to replace an existing coal-fired boiler at the Sheldon Station facility with one that uses clean burning hydrogen fuel. The hydrogen will be produced by Monolith as a byproduct in its production of cleanly made carbon black using natural gas at its adjoining plant.
The company will lease land for its facility from NPPD in order to build the structure next to the Sheldon Station site so NPPD can easily access the hydrogen.
Monolith's newest operation will allow the company to securely supply some of the largest carbon black customers with domestically produced, cleanly made carbon black, Hanson said.
“We searched the country for over a year for the most advantaged location to build a world-scale facility,” he said. “Ultimately, Nebraska's affordable electricity, supportive government, availability of natural gas and perfect fit with NPPD's Sheldon Station” resulted in the company selecting Hallam as the site for its plant.
“Protecting the environment while supporting and enhancing vital economic activity is Monolith's core value,” Hanson said. “The business-led solution spurs economic activity and helps reduce (carbon dioxide) emissions—all through innovative, private sector investment and management, and NPPD and Nebraska are vital partners in that.”
Monolith currently is filling 10 positions in the Lincoln, Neb., area and it intends to build its work force to more than 50 by the end of 2016 and to 100 by 2019, he said.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts noted that the private business-led venture “has the potential to support 600 new jobs and hundred of millions of new capital investment in the state of Nebraska.” The project is not dependent on federal government grants or loan guarantees. Instead, NPPD said, “Americans care about the quality of their air and water, and the sustainability of their everyday household products and energy use,” Hanson said.
Together, he said, Monolith and NPPD are helping to cut pollution while adding jobs and maintaining energy production. “Additionally, Monolith plans to bring a cleaner process to a carbon black plant for the first time in the United States, which will help our country grow this important industry and expand America's manufacturing economy,” he said.