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Researchers propose novel method for hydrogen synthesis in natural gas reservoirs

Researchers from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Russia explored the conversion of methane into hydrogen in the gas reservoir with zero oil saturation via steam methane reforming initiated by in situ gas combustion.

A paper on their work is published in the journal Fuel.


In the experimental model, different rock porous media were utilized and the process parameters such as temperature and the steam-to-methane ratio were varied. The outcome reveals a range of variations, each yielding different concentrations of hydrogen produced depending on these adjustable parameters.

Our findings suggest the incredible potential for underground hydrogen generation in natural gas reservoirs. This approach holds great promise as a leading candidate for the foreseeable future, benefiting from the synergy of the fossil fuel industry and an innovative hydrogen production technology.

—Mukhina et al.


  • Elena Mukhina, Pavel Afanasev, Aliya Mukhametdinova, Tatiana Alekhina, Aysylu Askarova, Evgeny Popov, Alexey Cheremisin (2024) “A novel method for hydrogen synthesis in natural gas reservoirs,” Fuel, Volume 370, doi: 10.1016/j.fuel.2024.131758



From the paper, this sounds like the critical bit:

' Fourth, the hydrogen is recovered from a production well through a specialized membrane that selectively permits the filtration of hydrogen while impeding other gases, including CO2, which remain confined within the rock. The hydrogen generated through this process, characterized by its environmental cleanliness (no CO2 emissions to the atmosphere), is suggested to be classified as the “aqua” color.'

It would seem to be highly likely to happen too, given that the tech proves out, as it is likely to enable continued production from existing assets, and hence lower costs:

' The hydrogen generation technique is particularly relevant for depleted gas fields after a certain volume of the gas has been conventionally recovered using industry-standard techniques. Regardless of residual gas saturation, almost any reservoir could be utilized for hydrogen production avoiding the need to cease operations on the site by shutting down the wells.'

How cheap? Dunno, we would have to have it in operation somewhere to get a proper handle on costs, but 'should' be cheaper than hydrogen from electrolysis.


I'd also note that for this tech, the small size of hydrogen molecules so often and rightly complained about as causing all sorts of problems for piping it and so on, is an advantage as a membrane able to pass through hydrogen will have way too small holes to allow the passage of CO2 etc!


The North Sea and surrounding areas not technically within it seem perhaps the most likely option for early use of this technology.

That is because a substantial number of their fields have peaked for conventional extraction, and at least some of the infrastructure is in place to be re-purposed.

In addition, in northern Europe solar is an expensive resource relative to more favoured regions, so green hydrogen already expensive in the best regions would perhaps be even more pricey.

Many areas in the US, although having extensive existing infrastructure, have at least far more competitive solar resources for relatively, and it is relatively, more economic electrolysis to produce hydrogen.


The big issue is the catalyst there is quite a bit of post processing required here I'm not sure of the real advantage since we use natural gas in so many applications it remains to be seen.

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