Mitsubishi Heavy Industries announced on 10 February that it has invested in C-Zero, a hard tech startup located in Santa Barbara, California., to accelerate the first commercial-scale deployment of C-Zero's drop-in decarbonisation technology, which by converting natural gas to hydrogen will allow industrial natural gas consumers to avoid producing CO2 in applications like electrical generation, process heating and the production of commodity chemicals like hydrogen and ammonia.
C-Zeros technology uses thermocatalysis to split methane into hydrogen and solid carbon in a process known as methane pyrolysis. The hydrogen can be used to help decarbonise a wide array of existing applications while the carbon can be permanently sequestered. When renewable natural gas is used as the feedstock, C-Zero's technology can be carbon negative, effectively extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and permanently storing it in the form of high-density solid carbon.
"MHI is committed to expanding the hydrogen value chain from production to utilisation by developing technologies such as the hydrogen gas turbine, and by partnering with innovative technology and solution providers," said Yoshihiro Shiraiwa, MHI president. "We believe C-Zeros technology will lead to more solutions that help us and our customers achieve our decarbonisation goals."
Zach Jones, C-Zero CEO commented: "By converting natural gas to clean hydrogen … we hope to be the bridge between existing natural gas infrastructure and a low carbon future."
The investment signals co-operation around accelerating the use of ‘turquoise hydrogen,’ which could further strengthen the hydrogen value chain. Hydrogen produced via methane pyrolysis processes like C-Zero's is increasingly being referred to as ‘turquoise hydrogen,’ as it combines the benefits of both ‘blue hydrogen,’ (steam methane reforming, SMR, with CO2 sequestration) and ‘green hydrogen’ (produced by splitting water via electrolysis) by being low cost and low emissions.
As part of the investment, MHI will examine the potential of using the company's technology for the production and supply of hydrogen that could then be utilised for power generation systems and other industrial applications.