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High Value Energy Saving Carbon Products and Clean Hydrogen Gas from Methane

NanoComp
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$3,475,124
Location: 
Merrimack, NH
Project Term: 
09/23/2019 to 01/22/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
By mass, natural gas (NG) is the most-extracted material on the planet. Natural gas extraction releases large amounts of methane, NG's main ingredient and a potent greenhouse gas, which can be burned for energy generation or converted into hydrogen (H2). Each year, steam methane reforming (SMR) of NG produces more than 10 million metric tons of H2, as well as 70-100 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). The H2 market is increasing at a combined annual growth rate of >6%, intensifying the need to generate H2 from abundant, domestic resources, with a low-to-zero CO2 footprint. Methane pyrolysis is an energy-efficient, environmentally friendly approach to produce emission-free H2 and carbon products--but to be commercially viable, these products must be useful for large-scale applications.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Nanocomp Technologies will develop an industrially scalable method to convert NG to a high-value carbon material, Miralon®, while also producing H2. Converting methane to solids serves effectively as pre-combustion carbon capture. This process can occur at the megaton scale at permanent locations or a smaller scale at remote locations such as flare gas sites, where methane and other gases can be converted to more easily transported solid carbon and electricity. The carbon produced by this method is structural, and can be used to create lightweight, low-cost composite material for homes, infrastructure, and transportation. This technology offers an environmentally sound alternative to direct combustion, allowing the use of an abundant U.S. resource with minimal release of CO2.
Potential Impact: 
This project's goal is to build the technical and commercial foundation for a business to convert NG into clean H2 and a unique carbon structural material at an industrial scale.
Security: 
On a per weight basis, 5 million metric tons of the high-value carbon material could replace imported structural steel, improving national security and trade balances.
Environment: 
As a replacement for steel, the novel material's weight savings to transportation alone could reduce annual domestic energy consumption by 10% and reduce CO2 emissions by more than 600 million tons per year.
Economy: 
This technology enables a new generation of lightweight, high-performance composites with properties similar to carbon fiber at lower cost.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Marc von Keitz
Project Contact: 
Mr. David Gailus
Partners
Impact Technology Development
Release Date: 
11/15/2018