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    Wintershall Dea, VNG invest in hydrogen tech


Methane pyrolysis produces solid carbon, which can be used in industry to produce plastic, rubber and other products.

by: Joe Murphy

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Wintershall Dea, VNG invest in hydrogen tech

Wintershall Dea and fellow German firm VNG Innovation have jointly invested in UK company HiiROC, a developer of methane pyrolysis technology used to produce CO2-free hydrogen from natural gas, they said on March 31.

“HiiROC’s technology offers us a lot of potential for decentralised hydrogen production,” Wintershall Dea's managing director Andreas Berger said.

Methane pyrolysis involves splitting natural gas into hydrogen, which can serve as a CO2-free energy source, and solid carbon, a raw material for industry that can be used to produce plastic, rubber and other products.

"We actively support the energy transition, including through investments and projects that help to drive forward low-cost, large-scale and low CO2 hydrogen production," Wintershall Dea CTO Hugo Dijkgraaf said.

The German gas company is targeting net-zero Scope 1 and 2 upstream emissions by 2030, and is also looking to minimise its indirect Scope 3 emissions as well. "Here, hydrogen is expected to play a key role alongside carbon capture and storage (CCS)," it said.

Hydrogen can also be produced from methane using steam reforming. But this process releases CO2 emissions which must be captured and stored for the hydrogen to be considered clean. Wintershall Dea and some other gas companies want instead to develop methane pyrolysis, but the technology is less mature and the demand for solid carbon is uncertain. The German firm is working with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology on methane-to-hydrogen technology, and is also involved in the Greensand CCS project in Denmark.