Transform Materials plasma process converts abundant natural gas into high-value hydrogen and acetylene
Transform Materials has developed a novel and sustainable microwave plasma reactor process to convert natural gas into high-value hydrogen and acetylene, thereby opening up a new pathway for green chemical manufacturing.
Transform Materials offers compact, modular and multiplexed plasma reactors producing high-purity hydrogen and acetylene that customers can integrate into their existing infrastructure.
Methane, the key component in natural gas, is usually just burned for heat, combining with oxygen in the atmosphere to form carbon dioxide, the predominant greenhouse gas. Oxidation of methane also introduces impurities in the product stream. To avoid these undesirable outcomes, methane must be broken down without oxygen. But methane is extremely inert in an oxygen-free environment and resists chemical reactions.
With its innovative technology, Transform Materials breaks down methane and other similar light hydrocarbon gases without oxygen, recombining the resulting fragments into two high-value end products, acetylene and hydrogen. The key to this transformation is a patented microwave plasma reactor system that generates these new products from methane efficiently at very high rates of conversion and selectivity.
For example, Transform Materials can fully utilize coalbed methane from coal mining operators to produce green hydrogen to power heavy equipment and hauling trucks. Fuel-cell vehicle fleet operators can take advantage of distributed manufacturing and strategic siting of refueling stations.
For passenger cars, Transform Materials’ technology enables the build-out of crucial hydrogen infrastructure and produces hydrogen using approximately 40% less energy input than conventional methods of production, the company says.
For acetylene users, Transform Materials enables on-site production of this important precursor, guaranteeing surety of supply, conveniently and at low cost. Acetylene can be then converted into many derivative chemicals, all possessing high value. The availability of low-cost acetylene may lead to a renaissance of acetylene use for traditional applications including PVC and acetylene black while laying the groundwork for new industrial applications.
A notable example is acetylene-led synthesis of lactic acid, which in turn can be easily polymerized into polylactic acid, a biodegradable polymer for packaging applications that can mitigate ocean plastic pollution.