German oil and gas firm Wintershall Dea and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have launched a three-year project to study producing hydrogen from natural gas without CO2 emissions.
Methane pyrolysis enables the methane in natural gas to be separated into gaseous hydrogen and solid carbon, which Wintershall said could be a key component in delivering a climate-neutral energy supply in the future.
“Natural gas is already the cleanest conventional source of energy, yet it can become even more climate-friendly moving ahead if we separate off the hydrogen and the carbon contained in it,” Hugo Dijkgraaf, Wintershall’s Chief Technology Officer said.
According to Wintershall, direct thermal methane cracking makes it possible to produce hydrogen from fossil fuels without direct CO2 emissions.
The technique pursued by Wintershall and KIT is based on splitting methane into its molecular components – hydrogen and solid carbon – in a bubble column reactor filled with liquid metal.
Wintershall said the carbon can be stored safely as a pure substance in solid form and used in many industrial areas.
In turn, the hydrogen can be used as a clean source of energy in the electricity, heating and mobility sector, as well as in many industrial applications such as steelmaking.