Transform’s technology provides dedicated on-site acetylene and hydrogen production with zero CO2e generated in the process—a first in the industry
Three conventional processes generate acetylene: the calcium carbide process, the partial oxidation process, and the ethylene cracker by-product process. All have disadvantages when compared with Transform’s process:
- The carbide process is extremely CO2 and energy intensive, as it relies on the mining of coal and limestone as the base materials to produce calcium carbide, which then gets transported to the use point for conversion to acetylene. Rising freight costs and mothballing of calcium carbide production plants are causing the carbide acetylene productions costs to rise.
- The partial oxidation process yields acetylene as a by-product of syngas production, requiring complex separation and purification. This process is only economical at large scale and is not suitable for most acetylene users which require dedicated acetylene supply.
- The ethylene cracker process yields acetylene as a minor by-product during ethylene production, requiring multiple steps for separation. This process is confined to large scale cracking facilities, and along with the partial oxidation process is not suitable for most acetylene users which require dedicated acetylene supply.
Our technology outpaces competing processes to generate hydrogen gas: electrolysis, steam methane reforming, pyrolysis, and partial oxidation of hydrocarbons. It is cleaner and more efficient:
- Electrolysis consumes more than three times as much electricity per unit of hydrogen as Transform’s process.
- Steam methane reforming, a high-temperature, corrosive process, produces complex by-products, emits a lot of GHGs, and is only cost-effective in very large installations.
Nathan Ashcraft Ph.D., VP Research & Development at Transform Materials, was a featured speaker in the webinar “Carbon-negative Hydrogen Production,” sponsored by Germany-based technology company Muegge and in partnership with the industry organization World Hydrogen Leaders. Ashcraft and Robert Mueller, general manager at Gerling Applied Engineering which is the U.S. branch of Muegge, discussed Transform’s highly efficient microwave plasma process for hydrogen production, offering insights into:
- Utilizing microwave power to convert natural gas via plasma into hydrogen
- Repurposing carbon into a valuable acetylene co-product
- The power of the plasma and its scalability
- Applications with new materials, Power-to-X, pyrolysis, syngas and more!
Watch the webinar here>> Carbon Negative Hydrogen Production
less energy than competing
Methane is the base feedstock because it's abundant, inexpensive, and our process offers a pathway for its use without more GHGs generated
Methane, the main component in natural gas, is abundant, inexpensive, and ubiquitous. It is a highly stable molecule, with strong bonds between its carbon atom and its four hydrogen atoms. Microwave-generated plasma provides enough energy to rupture the carbon-hydrogen bonds in methane, allowing the carbons and hydrogens to rearrange themselves in the reactor so that acetylene and hydrogen gas are produced.
Methane, however, is itself a greenhouse gas, about 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping atmospheric heat. When used for energy, methane is typically combusted -- burned to combine with oxygen, so that it forms carbon dioxide, another familiar greenhouse gas. Methane can also be deemed a waste gas during oil production and coal mining, so that it is discharged directly into the atmosphere, or is flared on-site by combustion, thus forming carbon dioxide.
Transform’s technology uses methane without combustion, instead energizing this gas to create a plasma within which the atoms of the methane can be scrambled to form useful products, acetylene and hydrogen. In addition, by using methane as a feedstock, Transform’s technology puts this cost-effective resource to good use, forming chemical end-products while preventing its entry into the atmosphere.
By relying on natural gas as feedstock for its plasma process, Transform takes advantage of its highly favorable economics. In addition, Transform offers a new pathway for using methane without adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
less electricity than
competing hydrogen technologies
Transform’s proprietary plasma technology forms a highly efficient chemical reaction zone for safe and clean production of acetylene and hydrogen
Traditional technologies rely on combustion or other energy-intensive processes to produce chemicals like acetylene and hydrogen. Combustion combines the carbon in the fuel source with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, which then enters the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. Transform has developed a powerful alternative to combustion, harnessing the energy of microwave-generated plasma to convert methane, our feedstock, into acetylene and hydrogen without combustion.
By its specialized use of microwaves to produce plasma in the absence of oxygen or water, Transform’s technology initiates a revolution in the chemical industry, forming valuable chemical products from methane without using processes that form greenhouse gases.
The Transform Materials process begins with methane or similar light hydrocarbon gases as feedstock, all equally processable with the same equipment. Exposing the feed gas to finely tuned energy – created by microwave power – the reactor tears the gas molecules apart, allowing the fragments to combine to form different substances, including acetylene and hydrogen. Transform has tuned its plasma energy system to maximize formation in high concentrations and with high purity. When powered by renewable electricity, Transform’s microwave reactors create acetylene and hydrogen with extremely low carbon intensities.