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ARPA-E awarding ~$14.4M to four projects for production of hydrogen and carbon products from methane

The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced approximately $21 million in funding for 7 projects in the next two cohorts of the agency’s OPEN+ program. These project teams will pursue methods to create high-value carbon and hydrogen from methane (four projects, $14.4 million), or to produce super strong, durable concrete with lower cost and environmental impact (3 projects, $6.1 million).

Inspired by the high quality of applications in the agency’s recent OPEN 2018 funding opportunity, ARPA-E created OPEN+ cohorts to focus on targeted, high-value opportunities to innovate technologies and create new communities.

The methane cohort teams will focus on industrially scalable ways to produce high quality carbon and hydrogen. Concrete cohort teams will develop manufacturing processes to extend the life of this critical construction material while reducing the amount of energy required to produce it.

The methane cohort awards:

Rice University. Converting Hydrocarbons to Recyclable Materials for Metal Replacement with Positive Hydrogen Output, $3,300,000.
Rice University will develop recyclable, lightweight materials that could be used to replace metals in automotive applications. The team will convert natural gas into carbon nanotubes with concurrent production of hydrogen, spin them into fibers, and evaluate the fiber performance and properties with the target of displacing metals.

The proposed technology could significantly reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with metal production, while producing hydrogen. Such recyclable, lightweight, and low-cost materials could provide an alternative to metals in automotive applications, reducing vehicle weight, reducing fuel and energy consumption, and reducing CO2 emissions.

Nanocomp Technologies, Inc. High Value, Energy Saving Carbon Products and Clean Hydrogen Gas from Methane, $3,479,624.
Nanocomp Technologies will develop an industrially scalable method to convert natural gas to a high-value carbon material, Miralon, while also producing hydrogen.

Converting methane to solids serves effectively as pre-combustion carbon capture. This project aims to build a flexible, transportable network of production systems that can be installed at methane generation or consumption sites and redeployed to new locations. The application of the technology could result in US energy savings and CO2 emission reductions.

ETCH, Inc. Carbon Dioxide-Free Hydrogen and Solid Carbon from Natural Gas via Metal Salt Intermediates, $3,690,304.
ETCH will scale-up a novel process to convert natural gas into hydrogen and solid carbon with no water input and reduced CO2 emissions.

Leveraging industrial partners, Southern Company and Cabot Corporation, the team will scale-up the ETCH cyclic process based on early laboratory demonstrations. The process is expected to produce hydrogen fuel from natural gas at costs comparable to the state-of-the art commercial technologies, while lowering energy input, reducing CO2 emissions, and producing high-value pure carbon materials.

Palo Alto Research Center, Inc. High-Throughput Methane Pyrolysis for Low-Cost Hydrogen, $3,946,542.
Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and its partners will develop a new, high-throughput reactor technology for hydrogen production. The team will demonstrate the use of a molten-metal mist reactor to convert natural gas into hydrogen and solid carbon at a low cost without carbon dioxide emissions.

The technology could replace current H2 production methods, while simultaneously sequestering carbon in high value materials and placing the United States at the forefront of the H2 production industry.

ARPA-E plans to announce a total of nine OPEN+ cohorts throughout late 2018 and early 2019.

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