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NW Natural and Modern Electron to convert methane into clean hydrogen

NW Natural and Modern Electron to convert methane into clean hydrogen

NW Natural (a 163-year-old gas utility based in Portland) partnered with Washington-based Modern Electron to create clean hydrogen directly from natural gas and blend it into its existing natural gas distribution network.

The pilot is expected to go live in early 2023. This project will be the first in a line of scheduled gas utility installations from Modern Electron, the suburban Seattle-based sustainable heat and power technology company.

The innovative technology process known as concurrent combustion methane pyrolysis is designed to produce clean hydrogen and solid carbon using only natural gas and air as inputs – and does not require any electricity, water, or consumable catalyst.

The technology, which is planned for the pilot at NW Natural’s Central Portland facility, is one of many solutions the utility is pursuing in its efforts to achieve carbon neutrality for the energy it delivers to customers, as detailed in its Destination Zero report.

Hydrogen created by this clean pyrolysis process can potentially be used for heating in industrial, commercial, and residential applications. Solid carbon resulting from the process could be turned into products such as asphalt, construction materials, automobile tires and soil amendments.

Kim Heiting, Sr. Vice President of Operations for NW Natural, said, “This technology could provide an incredibly elegant and flexible way of producing clean hydrogen – and potentially at a very low cost whenever and wherever we need it on our system to help decarbonize.”

Mothusi Pahl, Vice President of Business Development and Government Affairs, said, “The fastest and most economical way to reduce CO2 emissions at a national scale is to effectively leverage existing infrastructure. By decarbonizing natural gas at the point of use, our Modern Hydrogen products help businesses reduce their carbon footprints without the cost and complexity of changing their processes. We are all about decarbonization.”

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