Hydrogen could end up playing a big role in the world’s future energy production. The trouble with hydrogen is that it has to be isolated-usually from natural gas-and the conventional process of doing so is energy intensive and produces a lot of leftover CO2 to deal with. News from the Netherlands, however, shows that a whole new process could mitigate those factors and potentially make hydrogen production a more efficient and carbon neutral process.
Mohamed Halabi, who just earned his doctorate from the University of Technology at Eindhoven, says that conventional hydrogen production from natural gas requires a lot of heat (about 1,562 degrees Fahrenheit) and a lot of pressure (up to 25 bar) with lots of separation and purification stages that, at the end of the day, leaves a lot of CO2 behind.
Halabi’s device utilizes a process that was recently developed at the university called “sorption enhanced catalytic reforming of methane.” This process allows for hydrogen to be isolated from natural gas at much lower temperatures (between 752 and 932 degrees Fahrenheit) and at much lower pressure (about 4.5 bar) with considerably less leftover CO2 (less than 100 ppm).
Another benefit to the new process is that it is less bulky. Halabi seems to believe that his process could be used to create small hydrogen generation plants for residential use. Considering the benefits of higher efficiency, smaller size and reduced carbon footprint, it is conceivable that this process could give hydrogen fuel cell technology a big boost.