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Making H2 and graphite from methane

By Paul Grad |

Sydney University’s Laboratory for Sustainable Technology (Sydney, Australia; www.sydney.edu.au) and the technology-commercialization-firm Hazer Group (Perth, Australia; www.hazergroup.com.au) are collaborating to scale up the Hazer Process, which uses an iron-ore catalyst to produce hydrogen and graphite from natural gas. Natural gas “cracking” — or thermo-catalytic decomposition of methane (TCDM) — has been a subject for research for many years, as a means of producing H2 from natural gas, without also producing CO2. The H2 generated can be used as a feedstock for clean energy generation, either directly via fuel cells, or as a component of synthetic liquid-fuel technologies. The key elements of the Hazer process are: a low cost, disposable catalyst, eliminating the need for re-activation and re-use, and enabling collection of the graphite produced; and the fact that the graphite produced is nano-structured carbon with a high degree of order and crystallinity, and is potentially valuable in global markets. During the cracking process, the graphite deposits on the surface of the catalyst, eventually reducing its activity. Since the catalyst is inexpensive, it is disposable, and the graphite can be harvested directly, with…
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