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Catalytic decomposition (methane)

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Technology Description

Methane splitting/pyrolysis/cracking is a thermochemical process in which methane is decomposed at high temperatures in H2 and solid carbon, thus generating CO2-free H2 since the carbon present in the methane is separated as a solid carbon that can be used in different applications. In catalytic pyrolysis, methane breaks down into hydrogen and carbon over a metal catalyst, which is typically nickel- or iron-based, at temperatures typically under 1 000°C.
The use of a catalyst in methane pyrolysis offers several advantages over the non-catalytic thermal decomposition process. The catalyst reduces the energy required for the process by providing an alternate reaction pathway with lower activation energy, which makes the process more energy-efficient. The catalyst can also improve the selectivity and yield of the reaction, allowing for more efficient conversion of methane to hydrogen. Catalytic methane pyrolysis is still in the research and development stage, and several types of catalysts have been investigated, including metal catalysts, metal oxide catalysts, and carbon-based catalysts. The performance of the catalyst depends on several factors, such as its composition, structure, and activity, as well as the process conditions, such as temperature, pressure, and gas composition.

Relevance for Net Zero

Other alternative technologies for hydrogen production from fossil sources with CCS are far more developed and cost-competitive, although there may be some scope for its deployment thanks to the possibility of producing low-emission hydrogen with a simpler configuration than technologies incorporating CCUS

Key Countries

Australia, Finland, United States

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