FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German oil and gas company Wintershall DEA is to study turning natural gas into hydrogen and splitting off the carbon to help reduce CO2 emissions as part of its quest to remain a key energy player as climate laws demand alternatives to fossil fuels.
Announcing a three-year project with the public Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the company said the results would lay the foundations for the processing of large quantities of gas this way.
“Natural gas is already the cleanest conventional source of energy,” said Hugo Dijkgraaf, Wintershall’s chief technology officer.
“Yet it can become even more climate-friendly moving ahead if we separate off the hydrogen and the carbon contained in it.”
Wintershall, in which BASF holds a 67% stake, did not provide further detail on costs or landmark points, saying the process is at an early stage.
The work will focus on what is called methane pyrolysis, a method of breaking down the methane in natural gas into a gaseous hydrogen inside a vacuum and obtaining solid carbon. These can be sold for many industrial applications.
This month hydrogen was declared by Germany’s economy minister as having great potential for the country’s energy transition.
Germany is committed to cutting CO2 emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by the year 2030.
Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by David Goodman