At the International LNG Congress 2023 in Dusseldorf, Germany, earlier this week, German hydrogen company Graforce introduced ‘methane electrolysis’ (plasmalysis), a low-energy technology used to convert liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas into green hydrogen and reusable carbon. Graforce believes it will allow large gas users to switch to clean-burning hydrogen without changing their energy supplier or method of transporting fuels.

A liquefied natural gas tanker at Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar. (Photo by Graforce)

The company’s modular plasmalysis plants use a high-frequency plasma field generated by renewable electricity to split hydrocarbons such as methane into their molecular components: hydrogen and solid carbon. The hydrogen can be used for emission-free electricity and heat generation or in the chemicals industry, and because the CO2 can be sequestered over the long term in products such as steel and cement, the technology is also the first market-ready alternative to carbon capture and storage, according to the company.

Compared with the water electrolysis technology typically used to produce green hydrogen, plasmalysis requires just one-fifth of the energy to produce the same amount of hydrogen, states Graforce. A single 20MW plant can convert around 70,000 metric tonnes (t) of LNG into hydrogen annually, saving approximately 200,000t of CO2.

“We cannot do completely without fossil fuels yet,” said Jens Hanke, Graforce’s chief technology officer, in a press statement, “but the EU can still achieve its decarbonisation targets if LNG, LPG or natural gas are no longer burned but converted into hydrogen and solid carbon with the help of green electricity and our hydrogen plants.”

In January, Graforce teamed up with Kawasaki Gas Turbine Europe to create a plant that produces carbon-free hydrogen from biomethane, natural gas, LNG or LPG. This is converted to electricity in Kawasaki's hydrogen gas turbine and reused in the plasmalysis to produce hydrogen, thereby generating CO2-free electricity and high-temperature heat. Once started, the system requires no further electricity.

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