Turning Gas Into Hydrogen with No Emissions; Germans Finally Get It?

DRBC fracking ban - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


The German Energiewende has done nothing for emissions while raising electricity prices but, by turning gas into hydrogen, Germans could redeem themselves.

We’ve used a fair amount of bandwidth with this blog in exposing the German Energiewende for the virtue signaling political scam that it is, but could the Deutschland finally be getting it? Well, at least some Germans get it. They’ve invented technology with the potential to efficiently turn natural gas into hydrogen with no remissions. That would change everything.

The story comes from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Potsdam, Germany, and it’s extremely exciting. It involves new technology developed in a joint research conducted by scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies. Natural gas, which mainly consists of methane, is converted into hydrogen and fixed carbon. “Fixed” is the operative word, as becomes clear in this KIS press release (emphasis added):

“The German Gas Industry Innovation Award for the new methane cracking process is testament to the innovative spirit of our scientists,” says the President of KIT, Professor Holger Hanselka.

The option of using fossil natural gas in a climate-friendly way in the future can make a major contribution to curb CO2 emissions. I am very pleased that we, as the research university in the Helmholtz Association, can make this important contribution to climate protection together with our partners.”

The award was presented to the research team consisting of scientists from KIT and IASS on November 22 in Berlin…

The new process makes it possible to use natural gas in a climate-friendly manner.

“Instead of directly burning natural gas, which mainly consists of methane, we break it up into its components hydrogen and carbon,” says Dr Stefan Stückrad who has co-managed the research project at IASS. The hydrogen produced in methane cracking can be used as an energy source in fuel cell vehicles as well as for generating electricity and heat. Applications in the chemical industry are also possible.

“So far, hydrogen for the chemical industry has mainly been produced from natural gas by steam methane reforming. During this process, considerable amounts of carbon dioxide are released,” says Stückrad. In addition to hydrogen, very pure powdery carbon is created as a by-product during cracking, the importance of which is constantly increasing as an industrial raw material. For example, it is used in the production of elastomers, lightweight materials, printing inks and batteries.

Methane cracking is not a new idea as such and has previously been analyzed in experiments with gas phase reactors.


Methane cracking unit in liquid metal laboratory at KIT (Photo: Amadeus Bramsiepe, KIT)

The gas in the bubbles very quickly reaches the reaction temperature so that pyrolysis reaction takes place. “The bubbles open up on the surface of the liquid tin and release the gaseous hydrogen and carbon,” says Wetzel. “The carbon occurs as micro-granular powder that is easy to separate from the gas stream and easy to handle.

The new technology is now for the first time enabling continuous operation of a reactor for methane cracking. A conversion rate as high as 78 percent has been proven on a laboratory scale. The groups of scientists are currently working on further optimizing and scaling the process to pilot level.

That’s pretty amazing stuff and, yet again, it shows how innovative technology is constantly propelling the natural gas industry forward. Advocates of the German Energiewende, like “Green New Dealers” have supposed all the innovation was with them, but, in truth, they’ve advanced very little and still require massive subsidies, whereas natural gas is just steadily moving ahead changing the world of energy one Btu at a time at an ever increasing speed.

Meanwhile, my German relatives are finally getting it.

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3 thoughts on “Turning Gas Into Hydrogen with No Emissions; Germans Finally Get It?

  1. Interesting development, but need cost data to truly assess its significance. If it is less expensive than competitive alternatives with all costs in (raw materials, energy, amortized capital, byproduct (powdered carbon) offset value etc, then they really have something. The powdered carbon produced likely has a high surface area, and might be a good adsorbent (“activated carbon”). I’ll forward this post to my former colleagues at Calgon Carbon in Pittsburgh who might be interested.

  2. Good job Tom. This is very good news for at least gas drillers, not so much for oil drillers, but what the hay. I believe that when AGIP’s CEO prognosticated in 1995 that in 50 years, nuclear will serve urban communities and oil, due to its transportability, will deal with rural areas – along with the other 6,000 some products directly from oil, excepting combustion for transportation, was and still is prescient. I remember when there were advocates that oil should be taken out of personal transport to preserve oil for lubricants. One other development, way overlooked, is the efficiency of our most remarkable invention, the ICE engine. At some point, our engineers will get a 99% full burn from gasoline reaching almost negligible emissions (not bad from 82% in 1970).

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