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Catalytic Partial Oxidation and Membrane Separation to Optimize the Conversion of Natural Gas to Syngas and Hydrogen



The multistep integration of hydrogen-selective membranes into catalytic partial oxidation (CPO) technology to convert natural gas into syngas and hydrogen is reported. An open architecture for the membrane reactor is presented, in which coupling of the reaction and hydrogen separation is achieved independently and the required feed conversion is reached through a set of three CPO reactors working at 750, 750 and 920 °C, compared to 1030 °C for conventional CPO technology. Obtaining the same feed conversion at milder operating conditions translates into less natural gas consumption (and CO2 emissions) and a reduction of variable operative costs of around 10 %. It is also discussed how this energy-efficient process architecture, which is suited particularly to small-to-medium applications, may improve the sustainability of other endothermic, reversible reactions to form hydrogen.