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Making the Most of Methane Reforming

By Gerald Ondrey |

Despite valiant quests to find sustainable routes to syngas, methane reforming continues to play the lead — and ‘greener’ — role For decades, the production of synthesis gas (syngas, H2 + CO) from fossil-based feedstocks has been the key process for many sectors in the chemical process industries (CPI). Although energy efficiency has always been a driving force for making reforming technology more economical, the push today is toward reducing the carbon footprint of the plant. That means improvements in reformer design, heat integration and catalysts. Also, “the shale gas boom in the United States was one of the biggest game changers in the past 10 years,” says Christian Librera, head of Business Segment Syngas at Clariant Catalysts (Munich, Germany; www.clariant.com). Abundant and much cheaper resources have enabled the U.S. to significantly increase production of oil and natural gas. This has contributed to the fact that the U.S. will soon become a net exporter of methanol, and potentially ammonia, he says. “Further advantages to the U.S. are that methane-based syngas has a lower CO2 footprint, and is more cost-competitive compared to China’s coal-based syngas.” “In Europe, due to comparably high feedstock…
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