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Methane cracking to usable hydrogen and carbon


A potential breakthrough technology is represented by the development of processes allowing the use of available fossil and renewable methane to economically generate hydrogen without any release of CO2 or other GHGs (as in current processes). To be advantageous on a life cycle basis, however, this requires a higher efficiency than in current processes and that the used natural or renewable gas is supplied by a chain with low upstream leakage.

This requires the development of innovative methodologies to deliver high performance hydrogen production from methane by directly splitting the molecule in its components (hydrogen and solid carbon). Proposals are expected to demonstrate significant advances with respect to already achieved results in Europe and outside, delivering a minimum of 50% efficiency (i.e. energy from hydrogen recovery vs energy from original methane, for instance by reducing reaction temperatures and improving catalysts), and demonstrating the potential to achieve mass production and a competitive hydrogen cost and an improved climate performance with respect to current methane based, CO2 releasing hydrogen production methods including CCS. Due consideration should be given to the management of impurities in the source stream, and to the development of the economic potential of the carbon particles delivered by the specific technology which could have a valuable end-use (e.g. synthetic graphite or carbon black) or the development of side-streams of other carbon-rich chemical compounds (excluding uses which would re-release the carbon as CO2). Each project will dedicate part of its work programme to technology assessment to consider environmental, resource and economic aspects of the deployment of the technology).