Pyrolysis: The Future of Hydrogen Production

Hydrogen /
Pyrolysis: The Future of Hydrogen Production

Today, more and more companies are asking, “How can I create green hydrogen?” While several hydrogen production methods are available today, pyrolysis kills two birds with one stone, creating hydrogen fuel that also contributes to decarbonization efforts.

Today we’ll take a closer look at pyrolysis and its future in the renewable fuels industry.

What Is Pyrolysis?

In a nutshell, pyrolysis is a method of thermal decomposition. Biorefineries use high temperatures and pressure to transform organic materials or biomass (like wood, cardboard, crop residues, and animal and food wastes) into solids (char), liquids (tar), and gasses.

As pyrolysis happens in a virtually oxygen-free environment, the waste products don’t burn, eliminating any ecological side effects.

Products created via pyrolysis are virtually indistinguishable from their fossil-based counterparts. While technology is still developing to make the pyrolysis process more efficient and economical, it’s hoped that they will enable us to increasingly replace fossil fuels and move confidently toward decarbonization.

There are three types of pyrolysis: slow, flash, and fast.

Slow Pyrolysis

Slow pyrolysis (or carbonization) uses lower temperatures to remove water and enhance char production. Slow pyrolysis takes between five and thirty minutes and is used to make charcoal from wood.

Fast Pyrolysis

Fast pyrolysis is the most widely used form of pyrolysis. It converts biomass solids into liquid bio-oil at temperatures from 1202 to 1832 °F, yielding 60-75% liquid biofuel, up to 20% solid bio-chars, and 10-20% non-condensable gas.

Residual bio-char is an excellent soil amendment that can store vast amounts of carbon, helping decarbonization efforts.

Flash Pyrolysis

Flash pyrolysis (also called very fast pyrolysis) uses quick heating rates and moderate temperatures (between 752 and 1112 °F). As a result, flash pyrolysis produces less tar and gas than slow pyrolysis and is used to yield lower water content bio-oil.

How Does Pyrolysis Produce Hydrogen?

Hydrogen is produced from the decomposition of methane, a primary component of natural gas that’s generated via various forms of pyrolysis. The decomposition process separates menthane into solid carbon and hydrogen, which can then be captured and stored with low GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions.

Benefits of Pyrolysis

  • Fast pyrolysis is nearly instantaneous, taking mere seconds to complete
  • Creates green hydrogen via the decomposition of methane
  • Reduces landfill waste and GHG emissions
  • Generates energy from abundant domestic resources
  • Creates jobs in the renewable energy sector

How Will Pyrolysis Impact The Future of Hydrogen Production?

Pyrolysis presents a golden opportunity not only for bio-refineries synthesizing biomass into usable byproducts, but for mobility and energy companies interested in providing green energy sources.

We predict that waste and energy companies will get increasingly involved with pyrolysis as an alternative renewable energy production method. New pyrolysis facilities producing clean sources of hydrogen are in the conceptual and design phase in California.

FASTECH is working with pyrolysis facility developers to provide solutions for hydrogen storage, truck trans-fill loading stations, compression and mobility (light and heavy duty vehicles, rail, drayage, etc.) refueling stations. FASTECH is being contacted to design infrastructure to:

  • Clean H2
  • Compress and store H2
  • Load H2 into trailers for distribution
  • Build HD H2 refueling facilities to distribute H2

Interested in learning more about being on the cutting edge of the renewable fuels industry? Contact FASTECH for more help with building your alternative energy infrastructure.

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