UBC's thermal methane cracking technology invests $7 million in testing in Alberta

A new hydrogen production technology developed by the University of British Columbia (UBC) will be tested in a $7 million project between UBC, the government of Alberta and the Alberta utility ATCO.
The technology developed by UBC researchers — thermal methane cracking (TMC) — can produce up to 200 kilograms of hydrogen per day from natural gas without the use of water, while reducing or eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.The team will test their system at a facility in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, operated by ATCO, Alberta’s largest natural gas distributor.
Currently, hydrogen can cost up to $15 per kilogram.The project aims to eventually bring it down to less than $2 per kilogram, which is in line with the goal set by the U.S. Department of Energy to support hydrogen energy adoption.
Schematic diagram of the hydrogen production plant.UBC deploys clean hydrogen technology to Alberta in $7 million partnership.Image: Merida Lab
Dr. Omar Herrera, project co-leader and senior project manager at MéridaLabs, noted that most hydrogen is still currently produced using steam methane reforming (SMR).
SMRs still emit a lot of carbon dioxide and use a lot of water and energy.Water electrolysis is another method, but if the electricity used comes from non-renewable sources, it is costly and emits more greenhouse gases than SMR.In contrast, our methane thermal cracking method produces zero emissions – its only by-product is carbon black.
The methane cracking process does not produce CO or CO2 as by-products, so there is no need for a water gas shift (WGS) reaction or CO2 removal.Therefore, the CH4 decomposition process is greatly simplified relative to steam reforming.UBC TMC uses liquid metal in a continuous process.Image: Merida Lab
Prototype development co-leader Dr. Amir Sharafian said the Alberta project could eventually serve a new market for carbon black.He noted that carbon black is valuable for making tires, battery electrodes, diamonds and other industrial processes.Globally, this market is expected to reach $23 billion by 2026.
Posted on 25 October 2021 in Hydrogen, Hydrogen Production, Market Background, Natural Gas | Permalink | Comments (7)
One way is to use nuclear heat.Also, you want to know how long the system will work before it’s all burned out with soot.Also, what is the “liquid metal” used – are they very rare or just nickel.
Another approach, but informative, is a chemical reaction that produces hydrogen gas when solid carbon builds up on the catalyst.Thereafter, acid washing separates the carbon product from the metal catalyst precursor.https://www.pnnl.gov/news-media/new-clean-energy-process-converts-methane-hydrogen-zero-carbon-dioxide-emissions
In catalytic pyrolysis, methane is decomposed into hydrogen and carbon by a metal catalyst (usually nickel- or iron-based) at temperatures below 1,000 °C.https://www.luxresearchinc.com/blog/technology-landscape-key-players-in-methane-pyrolysis
How much carbon dioxide is produced during the extraction of natural gas (methane)?How much methane leaks into the atmosphere?It seems that a better way is to extract hydrogen from seawater, and we have no shortage of such methods.https://www.pv-magazine.com/2021/02/04/novel-catalyst-produces-green-hydrogen-from-seawater-via-solar/
If methane is used in the heating process, some CO2 will be produced.Here’s an idea.Renewable natural gas (RNG) from agriculture and solid municipal waste contains 50% carbon dioxide, which is removed to upgrade it to pipeline-quality natural gas.If you use this process and CO2 electrolysis, such as Twelve Energy, to make sustainable aviation fuel, it will be carbon negative.
If you have 1000 degrees Celsius of heat, you can convert water directly into hydrogen and oxygen using a thermochemical process.One reaction uses sulfuric acid and iodine, but the reagents are recycled, so the only outputs are H2 and O2.
I suspect UBC’s thermal methane cracking research is primarily a green wash for Alberta’s oil and gas industry.

Post time: Aug-05-2022