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Developing Net-Negative Hydrogen Production Technologies

As part of NETL’s continued efforts to advance net-negative carbon emission technologies, the Lab has embarked on several projects to study gasification systems capable of cleanly and affordably producing hydrogen, a versatile fuel and chemical precursor that will enable U.S. energy security and resiliency and provide economic value and environmental benefits for diverse applications across multiple sectors.

NETL is working with partners Auburn University, the Electric Power Research Institute, the University of Kentucky Research Foundation and the University of Utah to conduct lab-scale investigations into how co-gasification of waste plastics and other diverse waste feedstocks such as biomasses affect gasifier hardware and gasification processes. These investigations will yield valuable data to inform future upscaling efforts that could provide a pathway to decarbonized energy systems.

Gasification is a thermal process that uses chemical reactions to break down carbon-based materials into molecular building blocks, creating syngas, a product primarily consisting of carbon monoxide and hydrogen molecules. Traditionally, gasifiers have used coal and petroleum coke as feedstocks, but advances in co-gasification and integrated carbon capture technologies can enable hydrogen production with net-zero or net-negative CO2 emissions potential.

“These collaborations are exploring ways to diversify gasifier feedstocks by blending in various other carbon-containing renewable and waste sources,” said NETL Federal Project Manager Debalina Dasgupta. “When blending biomass into the feedstocks and subsequently capturing CO2 via pre-combustion capture and storage, it is possible to emit less CO2 into the atmosphere than it took to produce the biomass material, resulting in net negative carbon emissions.”

Advances in gasification of blended and variable feedstocks will enable co-gasification technology to perform reliably and flexibly to produce hydrogen in a net-zero carbon emissions future, and net-negative carbon emission performance could fill an important niche in offsetting difficult to decarbonize industrial sectors. These extramural financial assistance projects, complemented with NETL internal research, are making strides toward this future and a net-zero carbon emission economy by 2050.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By leveraging its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.