SDTC awards C$1.5M to support Molten Salt Catalyzed Gasification for hydrogen production; targeting reduced GHG footprint for oil sands synthetic crude
16 February 2013
|Flowchart of the MSG process. Source: Western Hydrogen. Click to enlarge.|
A consortium led by Canada-based Western Hydrogen Ltd. will receive a $C1.5-million investment from Sustainable Development Technology Canada to support the development and commercialization of a new hydrogen manufacturing technology called Molten Salt Catalyzed Gasification (MSG), originally developed at the US Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
Hydrogen is necessary in the upgrading of oil sands bitumen into synthetic crude, but it is a costly and carbon-intensive part of the process, given current hydrogen production technologies. MSG converts natural gas into hydrogen with a 23% reduction in GHG emissions compared to steam methane reforming.
|GHG scenarios for hydrogen production in Alberta. Source: Western Hydrogen. Click to enlarge.|
The MSG technology also delivers hydrogen at a high-pressure stream of greater than 1,000 pounds per square inch—which minimizes post treatment—and is ready for use in industrial processes. Similarly, carbon dioxide is also released at high pressure in liquid phase, allowing for easier carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).
MSG also requires fewer equipment components than in typical hydrogen production, resulting in a smaller overall footprint. In general, efficiencies in both the process reactions and required equipment means greater energy efficiency.
Depending on operating conditions, the MSG process is capable of producing hydrogen, synthetic natural gas or synthesis gas at high pressure from any carbon-containing material and water. In the MSG process, a special reactor takes in carbon, water, alkaline salts and electricity, and outputs H2, CH4, CO2, H2S and inorganic components.
The process is conducted at 1500 – 2000 psi (10.3 - 13.8 MPa) and 800 – 900 °C. The primary process reactions are:
2 Na2CO3 + 3 C + 4 H2O → Na + 5 CO2 + 4 H2
2 Na + 2H2O → H2 + 2 NaOH
2 NaOH + C + H2O → Na2CO3 + 2 H2
Reactions are both exothermic and endothermic, with the net energy balance being slightly endothermic.
Typical output in testing in the lab has been
- H2: 65% volume
- CH4: 5% volume
- CO2: 25% volume
- CO: 5% volume
- H2S: trace
The SDTC funding builds on a previous SDTC project. The other members of the consortium are INL and Aux Sable Canada Ltd. (ASC). The SDTC award was one of 23 new investments for clean technology projects, totaling C$61.8 million.
Background. The Molten Salt Catalyzed Gasification process has been under development at INL since 2006. Original funding was provided from internal Idaho National Laboratory funds. Once feasibility was shown, commercial funding was sought and obtained from Western Hydrogen Limited. In turn, Western Hydrogen Limited received an exclusive license to the technology.
Subsequently, Western Hydrogen Limited applied for and received funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada. The total investment in the technology to date is more than $6 million.
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