BASF says the partners aim to find new ways to produce hydrogen and syngas — a key raw material for the chemical industry also used in producing fuels — from natural gas, producing very little CO2. In hydrogen production alone, the company expects CO2 emissions to be about 50 percent lower than the traditional method.
Together with BASF’s subsidiary hte AG and scientific partners VDEh-Betriebsforschungsinstitut, Düsseldorf, and TU Dortmund University, the companies are developing a two-stage process. In the first step, a high-temperature technology will process natural gas to obtain hydrogen and carbon.
The hydrogen is then reacted with large volumes of CO2, also from other industrial processes, to make syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen.
The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is subsidizing the project, which began on July 1 and is slated to last three years.
The partners say the project’s advantages include:
- Natural gas is a plentiful resource with a more favorable content of hydrogen and carbon than biomass, for example.
- Natural gas decomposition is achieved thermally only, without any addition of oxygen or water.
- This enables the production of hydrogen and solid carbon; the latter may potentially be used to replace hard coal in the coke and steel industries.
- With the process operating at very high temperatures, the reactor design ensures that the correspondingly large amounts of waste heat are recycled immediately into the process.
The companies say they intend to develop a pilot plant design and a concept for integrating the technology into existing chemical and steel-producing sites. ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe and its subsidiary Kokereibetriebsgesellschaft Schwelgern (KBS) will perform the carbon conditioning and testing for steel industry use.
Late last year Ford said a new resin developed by BASF and used in the window switches in the 2013 Ford Fusion saves 2,700 gallons of diesel fuel usage and about 60,000 pounds of CO2 emissions a year.