Our previous post “A return from the background” mentioned methane reforming as basically the only near-term alternative to water electrolysis to produce hydrogen.
The International Energy Agency has published an excellent Techno-Economic Evaluation of the state of the art of reforming, with or without steam and with or without combination with CCS.
Is there really nothing else?
Two recent papers suggest that there might be.
The technologies involved are also pretty cool, involving things like catalysts dissolved in liquid metal and a solid proton-conducting electrolyte.
The first paper deals with the fact that metals that catalyze the striping of hydrogen from methane get deactivated when the carbon covers the metal surface. By using a 27% nickel solution in molten bismuth a 95% methane conversion was achieved at 1065°C in a 1.1-meter bubble column. This produced pure hydrogen without CO2 or other by-products, while carbon floated to the surface of the liquid where it could be skimmed off.
The second paper gives us steam methane reforming with a twist: it describes a BaZrO3-based proton-conducting electrolyte deposited as a dense film on a porous Ni composite electrode with dual function as a reforming catalyst that produces high-purity hydrogen from steam methane reforming in a single-stage process. At 800 °C full methane conversion was achieved whereby 99% of the formed hydrogen was removed, which was simultaneously compressed electrochemically up to 50 bar.
Thanks are due to John Timmer.
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