NW Natural, a 163-year-old gas utility based in Portland, announced today a partnership with Washington-based Modern Electron to create clean hydrogen directly from natural gas and blend it into its existing natural gas distribution network.
From Breakthrough Energy's Cipher: Modern Electron is pursuing a pair of technologies, including the one we mentioned in the main article that increases the productivity of natural gas in residential heating. The other seeks to make low-carbon hydrogen fuel onsite with commercial customers via a process called methane pyrolysis, which would help clean up natural gas using its existing infrastructure.
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Cheap, green hydrogen would be a massive breakthrough in clean energy... Methane (CH4) is the primary fossil fuel used to produce hydrogen now. When it reacts with water (H2O) at a high temperature, both H2 and CO2 are produced. However, through a different heating process that happens in the absence of oxygen, called pyrolysis, it’s possible to separate the hydrogen atoms and leave just solid carbon—think of the lead in a pencil.
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“When Modern Electron came to us we were intrigued by the idea of stripping the gas down to pure hydrogen. That’s the cleanest burning substance there is,” said Daryl Williams, Qualco president. “We’re trying to get the carbon out of the air and into the soil where it belongs.”
Modern Electron, the Tulalip Tribes, and Qualco Energy Are Awarded Funding to Generate Hydrogen From Renewable Biogas
The Clean Energy Fund of the Washington State Department of Commerce has funded Qualco Energy to deploy a hydrogen generation solution from Modern Electron. The Qualco Energy renewable biogas project in Snohomish County leverages Modern Electron’s cost-efficient and environmentally friendly method for producing clean hydrogen with no CO2 emissions. The clean hydrogen produced by Modern Electron will be utilized for power generation that delivers electricity to a local community of 300 homes.