Company transforming natural gas into hydrogen obtains US $ 1.04 billion loan


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The US Department of Energy just announced a US $ 1.04 billion loan guarantee for Monolith Materials, a company that designed a clean energy system to split natural gas into gaseous hydrogen and carbon black . Hydrogen, according to quartz.com , will be used to produce commercial fertilizers. This is the first such loan guarantee from the DoE Loan Programs Office since President Joe Biden took office.

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Why should you care? Well, on the one hand, carbon black is a key ingredient for tires – it makes up 15-20% of modern tires by weight – and Monolith already has a contract with Goodyear for everything it produces. Traditional carbon black comes from the combustion of waste oil or coal tar oil – both crude emitters of carbon – but Monolith’s system is virtually emission-free.

In fact, this is the biggest news from this announcement, with Monolith claiming that its plasma-based methane pyrolysis process produces no carbon emissions. “We look a lot like an electric car,” says Rob Hanson, co-founder and CEO of Monolith Materials.

“We don’t have direct emissions in our factory, but like an electric car, what matters is where your electricity comes from. This is a significant advance since most methods of producing hydrogen from natural gas have a significant carbon footprint.

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And the process also makes financial sense. Hanson says that even without hydrogen, the pyrolysis process – which heats natural gas without contact with oxygen so that the molecules separate into carbon and H2 – is extremely cost effective: “If all the process was doing was to produce carbon black. carbon and [we] ventilated hydrogen, we would still be competitive. Indeed, according to Forbes , Monolith’s original goal was production without carbon black emissions ; hydrogen was the by-product.

This is great news for a hydrogen-powered infrastructure. One of the condemnations of opponents of hydrogen is that production by electrolysis is too expensive for automobile use and that so-called “blue” hydrogen is not much greener than internal combustion of fossil fuels. If Monolith’s technology proves to be effective, it could be a leap forward that the hydrogen infrastructure has been waiting for …

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