NW Natural and Hycamite explore applications for hydrogen production via thermocatalytic decomposition (TCD) of methane
NW Natural, Oregon’s largest gas utility, and Kokkola, Finland-based Hycamite TCD Technologies have signed a letter of intent to explore applications for Hycamite’s novel methane pyrolysis technology to produce and distribute clean hydrogen.
Hycamite’s proprietary technology is based on the thermocatalytic decomposition (TCD) of methane molecules. The process developed by Hycamite is based on years of research at the University of Oulu, Finland.
Within NW Natural’s service territory, large natural gas customers could develop facilities that use Hycamite’s novel methane-splitting technology to deliver low-carbon (turquoise) hydrogen to supplement or replace natural gas usage. Hycamite would install, commission, operate and maintain the methane pyrolysis units while NW Natural would deliver the natural gas feedstock used to produce hydrogen.
Hycamite’s technology helps decarbonize industrial by providing low-carbon (turquoise) hydrogen and sustainable carbon products for demanding industrial applications. Hycamite’s technology decomposes large volumes of methane into its component elements—hydrogen and carbon—while avoiding the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Comparison of different hydrogen production technologies. TCD: thermo-catalytic decomposition. SMR: steam methane reforming. Source: Hycamite.
Hycamite has developed a family of sustainable catalysts that lowers the temperature needed for the process compared to older methane pyrolysis methods. It also increases the quality of the solid carbon obtained from hydrocarbon splitting.
Because the quality of the carbon produced by the Hycamite process is high, it is fit for several demanding industrial applications. Most of the carbon is in the form of carbon nanotubes and fibres. Thus, this carbon can be used in many applications, such as lithium-ion batteries. For example, when carbon is used as a substitute in cement, not only will fewer emissions be produced, but also the performance of the concrete will be improved by up to 140%.
Hycamite’s technology also requires only 13% of the energy needed to produce hydrogen via electrolysis. Using a methane feedstock (from geologic natural gas, biomethane or synthetic natural gas) allows production to scale up rapidly.
Hycamite is privately owned. In its latest investment round in July 2023, Hycamite raised €25 million (S$26.2 million) from Japanese conglomerate Sojitz and other investors looking to support low-carbon hydrogen and sustainable carbon production.
NW Natural is a local distribution company that currently provides natural gas service to approximately 2.5 million people in more than 140 communities through more than 795,000 meters in Oregon and Southwest Washington with one of the most modern pipeline systems in the nation. NW Natural owns and operates 21 Bcf of underground gas storage capacity in Oregon.