Development of a continuous hydrogen-carbon nanofibers production line
Today, hydrogen represents the future base of an energy system, which is potentially envisaged to become independent from conventional energy resources. The key-technologies in that system are linked to the production, the storage, the transport and the use of hydrogen.
Since CVD derived synthetic nano-scale filamentous graphite is proven useful in various applications, the catalytic splitting of hydrocarbons into Carbon Nanotubes and Hydrogen is an attractive option to provide a Kyoto accord compatible technology yielding nothing but high end raw materials.
Herein we report on the development of a process able to split hydrocarbons, preferably Methane, into Hydrogen and Carbon Nanotubes. One basic requirement on the chemistry involved is to minimize or even avoid emission of CO2 to the environment. The economic benefit of this process, compared to state of the art methods, is demonstrated through the commercial exploitation of the Carbon Nanotubes inherently produced. The usage of both natural gas from biologic origin as a versatile source of Carbon and to run the process in a highly economic way is discussed. By this it is sought to show thermo-catalytic splitting of methane as one viable means to support environmentally friendly Hydrogen-energy scenarios.
To proof the concept a pilot facility was designed and realized allowing continuous processing, however, with strict regard to valid safety regulations in terms of machine operations and exposure of workers. The productivity of this novel reactor was demonstrated to exceed the the original calculated capacity of 1 ton Carbon Nanotubes and 350 kg of Hydrogen per year to the three- to four fold amount, respectively.
Compounding the obtained Carbon Nanotubes into polymers creates highly desired properties in plastics in terms of high strength and permanent electric conductivity, thus opening an additional, innovative business.
Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Klaus Mauthner
Project or cooperation partner
- Heat GmbH
- Montanuniversität Leoben