At the International LNG Congress in Düsseldorf, the Berlin-based technology company Graforce presented a process that converts LNG into hydrogen: plasmalysis. With its help, gas consumers should be able to switch to hydrogen without having to change previous energy suppliers or transport routes. Several demonstration plants are already in operation.
In plasmalysis, a high-frequency plasma field generated by renewable electricity splits hydrocarbons such as methane into their molecular components: Hydrogen and solid carbon. Compared to water electrolysis, plasma lysis requires only one-fifth the energy to produce the same amount of hydrogen, according to Graforce.
"We still can't completely eliminate fossil fuels in the next few years. But the EU can still achieve its decarbonization targets if LNG, LPG or even natural gas are no longer burned but converted into hydrogen and solid carbon directly at the terminal or at decentralized locations with the help of green electricity and our hydrogen plants," says Dr. Jens Hanke, CTO of Graforce.
Converting 70,000 tons of LNG per plant.
After generation in modular plasmalysis plants at the LNG terminal, the hydrogen can be used for emission-free power and heat generation or in the chemical industry, he said.
The high-purity carbon produced along the way is a raw material for various industrial applications (steel, concrete, asphalt or soil improvement). Because the CO2 is sequestered in products over the long term, the technology is the first market-ready alternative to carbon capture storage (CCS), according to Graforce.
A single 20 MW plant can convert about 70,000 tons of LNG to hydrogen per year, according to the manufacturer. This would save around 200,000 t of CO2 compared to combustion.
Demo plants in operation
Graforce has already built three demo plants in Berlin and Brandenburg. Two more projects will be completed this year: one to decarbonize natural gas and produce hydrogen and solid carbon in a refinery, and one to produce CO2-free heat and power in a 40,000 m" urban area in Germany.
Graforce also entered into a collaboration with Kawasaki Gas Turbine Europe in January 2023. Using a combination of plasmalysis and hydrogen turbines, the industry here will be able to generate CO2-free electricity and high-temperature heat. Once started up, the entire system requires no further electricity.
Within the plant solution, carbon-free hydrogen is produced from biomethane, natural gas, LNG or LPG, he said. This is converted into electricity in Kawasaki's hydrogen gas turbine and reused in the plasmalysis process to produce hydrogen. Both technologies were awarded the German Gas Industry Innovation Award 2020 and 2022.