Co-Synthesis of Hydrogen and High-Value Carbon Products from Methane Pyrolysis

Default ARPA-E Project Image

Exploratory Topics
Stanford, California
Project Term:
04/13/2020 - 10/12/2023

Critical Need:

This topic would develop high value methane pyrolysis, including approaches that can economically convert natural gas to both fuel cell-grade hydrogen and higher value carbon materials (e.g., carbon fiber) with a low CO2 footprint. The emphasis of these projects is to identify scalable approaches to the development of fuel cell-grade hydrogen, while also advancing the identification, understanding, and control of new reaction conditions and processes necessary to direct carbon formation. The United States currently produces roughly 10 million tons of hydrogen per year from two processes: steam methane reforming that converts natural gas and water into hydrogen and carbon dioxide, and electrolysis of water to hydrogen and oxygen. Both of these traditional methods provide for the production of hydrogen with little or no release of carbon dioxide (through CO2 capture and sequestration in the steam methane process), but there is an inherent opportunity in hydrogen production process to create useful carbon byproducts. Developing high value methane pyrolysis becomes comparably more favorable and economically beneficial when it creates a viable carbon byproduct.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Stanford University will design a process for catalytic pyrolysis of methane into high-value carbon nanotubes and hydrogen (H2) at the low cost of $1/kg, without any carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This project will synthesize high-performance, nano-controlled pyrolysis catalysts with structural features that enable efficient catalyst regeneration and separation of solid crystalline carbon. The carbon nanotubes can be used in a wide range of applications from batteries to carbon-fiber composites. Low-cost, CO2-free hydrogen can be used to decarbonize multiple large industries such as refinery and petrochemicals, ammonia production, steel, concrete, and transportation.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Jack Lewnard
Project Contact:
Matteo Cargnello
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

Related Projects

Release Date: