New Discovery: Producing Hydrogen from Natural Gas, Sans CO2 Emissions

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Mohamed Halabi, PhD Photo: Bart van Overbeeke

To date, producing hydrogen from natural gas as a clean fuel alternative has been anything but clean. The effort to produce hydrogen from natural gas has had the negative impact of producing carbon dioxide in the manufacturing process.

Now a doctoral researcher, Mohamed Halabi at the Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), has demonstrated the ability to produce hydrogen fuel from natural gas, without producing carbon dioxide. Halbi received his PhD May 9 and news of his discovery might serve to keep him busy in coming years on the evolution of alternative clean fuels.

TU Eindhoven writes on its website that it has now developed an improved technology called “sorption enhanced catalytic reforming of methane,” through using novel catalyst/sorbent materials. Halabi has demonstrated the feasibility of producing hydrogen through this process at much lower temperatures (400 to 500 degrees Celsius).

According to TU Eindhoven, the process is performed in a packed bed reactor using a “Rhodium-based catalyst and a Hydrotalcite-based sorbent as a new system of materials.” When hydrogen is produced on the active catalyst, the cogenerated CO2 is adsorbed on the sorbent, thus preventing any CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.

About this procedure, Halabi says, “Direct production of high purity hydrogen and fuel conversion greater than 99.5 percent is experimentally achieved at low temperature range of (400 – 500 oC) and at a pressure of 4.5 bar with a low level of carbon oxides impurities: less than 100 ppm.”

The standard hydrogen production process using natural gas is known as “steam reforming.” It requires pressures as high as 25 bar (363 psi) and higher temperatures of up to 850 C (1562 F), while also incorporating multistage subsequent separation and purification units. Here is the rub, writes gizmag: “In the post-processing phase, large amounts of CO2 either must be dealt with, or are released into the atmosphere.”

Halabi received his PhD at TU Eindhoven based on his dissertation “Sorption Enhanced Catalytic Reforming of Methane for Pure Hydrogen Production – Experimental and Modeling.” He conducted his research at the laboratory of Chemical Reactor Engineering, under the supervision of Prof. Jaap Schouten.

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Glenn Meyers

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

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