Hydrogen production without CO2 emissions

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A young French scientist has developed a generator to produce hydrogen without CO2 emissions. The developed process, which consumes four times less electricity than current systems using electrolysis, breaks down molecules of methane or bio-methane to extract the hydrogen in its gaseous form and fixes the remaining carbon in solid form.

Hydrogen has often been presented as a source ofalternative energy for fossil fuels. Unfortunately for us, this resource not found naturally on Earth. On the other hand, it is found in abundance in hydrocarbons, which, as the name indicates, are composed of carbon and hydrogen atoms, but also in water molecules, where hydrogen is bonded to hydrogen. If it is currently possible recover hydrogen by performing an electrolysis of water, this operation requires a huge amount of electricity.

The other recovery technique is called hydrocarbon reforming, which, under the influence of very high heat, consists in releasing hydrogen, but releasing tons of CO2. Today, 95% of hydrogen production comes from coal or natural gas, which emits more carbon dioxide than the direct use of these fossil products. The French start-up Spark Cleantech from the 21st (twenty-first) program at the engineering school Central Supelecchose one a different way of producing using pulsating cold plasmas to extract hydrogen from biomethane. A pyrolysis technique that consumes four times less electricity than electrolysis, with the advantage of recovering hydrogen gas and rejecting the carbon in solid form, explains Erwan Pannier, technical director and co-founder of Spark Cleantech.

There is a lot of talk today about hydrogen as a fuel for tomorrow’s mobility or to “decarbonize” industry, but the problem at the moment is its production, which is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. emissions than air traffic.

This is why we undertook to develop this alternative hydrogen production process called pyrolysis using cold plasma technology. To fully understand its principle, you can imagine a lightning strike in a box, the intensity of which is controlled to drive out the hydrogen atoms contained in the molecules of biomethane, while the carbon that remains in solid form. This process generates no CO2 emissions.

Our belief is that hydrogen is the ideal fuel for transportation in general and especially for so-called heavy mobility vehicles. But extracting it from fossil fuels by supplying tons of CO2, as is the case today, is futile. Might as well stay in oil! Producing this hydrogen by electrolysis of water is not the solution either, because it requires gigantic amounts of electricity, on the order of 11 GW, and would double the number of new units of nuclear power plants that would be needed. settle in France! to meet national demand.

Our process, which consumes 4 times less power than electrolysis, also makes it possible to decentralize hydrogen production. And we plan to insert our installations directly into future filling stations, which will create on-site in an economical way without the need to transport pure hydrogen for heavy mobility. ยป

L’goals for the young company is to meet the needs of small industries that consume hydrogen. Spark mainly targets metal manufacturing and processing companies, flat glass, electronics, food and fine chemicals. That young shoots plans to market its process in the summer of 2024.

If you have questions or suggestions, you can write to us at new.technologies@rfi.fr

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