French firm Air Liquide, one of the world's largest hydrogen producers, has started producing hydrogen at its new E45 million production unit in Priolo Gargallo, Italy. The hydrogen will be used to create cleaner petrol and diesel, the firm revealed.

The new unit is located within ERG’s existing refinery and is scheduled to produce over 220 million square meters of pure hydrogen annually. The facility will supply hydrogen for the next 15 years to two refineries in Italy’s Augusta-Priolo petrochemicals district.

These refineries are ERG Med’s refinery and ExxonMobil’s (Esso Italiana’s) refinery. The hydrogen will be used in the hydro-conversion plant to reduce the amount of sulfur in the petrol and diesel produced at these refineries.

Pierre Dufour, executive vice president in charge of Air Liquide’s large industries world business line unit, commented: We are delighted to see this project come to fruition. Our hydrogen will allow our customers’ processes to run more efficiently, and help them live up to their environmental responsibilities. It is a shining example of Air Liquide’s commitment to sustainable development.

The hydrogen supplied by Air Liquide to refineries around the world enabled refineries to reduce sulfur oxide emissions by approximately 700,000 tonnes in 2006, which is more than the total sulfur oxide emitted by a country like France in one year.