Natural gas accounts for over 28 percent of US energy consumption. Its main component, methane, is a widely-used fossil fuel but also a major contributor to rising CO2 levels, and thus climate change. To address this issue, researchers from the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have developed a process that extracts the energy content of methane, in the form hydrogen, without producing carbon dioxide.
In a process called “methane cracking,” the molecular components of methane – hydrogen and carbon – are separated at temperatures of over 750° C (1,382° F), without harmful emissions. The concept of methane cracking has been around for several decades, but was limited by low conversion rates and carbon clogging.