Hydrogen applications and research activities in its production routes through catalytic hydrocarbon conversion
The statistical information on the share of hydrogen sector-wise consumption indicates that 95% of the total consumption is utilized in ammonia synthesis, petroleum refining processes and methanol production. We discuss how hydrogen is used in these processes and in several smaller-scale manufacturing industries. We also present the trend of hydrogen used as fuel, and as an energy carrier in fuel cells for generating electricity, powering hydrogen vehicles, as well as in aerospace applications. Natural gas caters for approximately half of the total hydrogen production resources. Therefore, the scope is emphasized on relatively recent developments in research activities related to the conventional catalytic hydrocarbon processing technologies for the production of hydrogen derived from natural gas (methane), which are steam methane reforming, partial oxidation of methane and autothermal reforming. Hydrocarbon decomposition is included due to its potential to be industrialized in the future, and its benefits of producing clean hydrogen without emissions of greenhouse gases and generating carbon nanofibers or nanotubes as by-products that have the potential in various emerging applications. Attention is given to the efforts toward achieving hydrocarbon conversion improvements, energy savings through thermally efficient operation and reduced operational costs through minimization or elimination of coke formation in the catalytic processes.