KIT and Wintershall Dea collaborating to develop industrial-scale methane pyrolysis for CO2-free production of hydrogen
Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and colleagues earlier developed an efficient process for methane pyrolysis. Methane pyrolysis separates methane (CH4) into gaseous hydrogen and solid carbon that is a valuable material for various industry branches and can also be stored safely. Now, KIT is partnering with industry partner Wintershall Dea to further develop this process for use on an industrial scale.
Direct thermal cracking of methane and other hydrocarbons is a way to produce hydrogen from natural gas without direct CO2 emissions.—Professor Thomas Wetzel of KIT’s Institute of Thermal Process Engineering
Wetzel’s team, in cooperation with the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V. in Potsdam, developed a process for the continuous decomposition of methane in a bubble column reactor filled with liquid metal to produce hydrogen and solid carbon.
Now, in a joint project scheduled initially to run for three years, KIT and Wintershall Dea plan to lay the foundations for future industrial use of methane pyrolysis within the next three years.
There are huge quantities of natural gas worldwide and it can be used in a climate-neutral way. We now want to study how this can be achieved efficiently and use the results for processing large quantities of gas later on. We are looking forward to this collaboration and are confident that we can make a major contribution to sustainable energy supply in the future.—Prof Wetzel
In 2018, the research of KIT and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V. relating to methane pyrolysis was granted the Innovation Award by the German Gas Industry and additionally won the audience award of the ERDGAS 2018 Zukunftswerkstatt, an event staged by the Zukunft ERDGAS industry initiative.
With the merger of Wintershall Holding GmbH and DEA Deutsche Erdoel AG, two successful companies with a long tradition have formed Europe’s leading independent natural gas and oil company: Wintershall Dea. The company with German roots and headquarters in Kassel and Hamburg explores for and produces gas and oil in 13 countries worldwide. With activities in Europe, Russia, Latin America, and the MENA region (Middle East & North Africa), Wintershall Dea has a global upstream portfolio and, with its participation in natural gas transport, is also active in the midstream business.
T. Geißler, A. Abánades, A. Heinzel, K. Mehravaran, G. Müller, R.K. Rathnam, C. Rubbia, D. Salmieri, L. Stoppel, S. Stückrad, A. Weisenburger, H. Wenninger, Th. Wetzel (2016) “Hydrogen production via methane pyrolysis in a liquid metal bubble column reactor with a packed bed,” Chemical Engineering Journal, Volume 299, Pages 192-200 doi: 10.1016/j.cej.2016.04.066