Process development and deployment for the direct reforming of crude oil to hydrogen and carbon materials

Problem statement

Hydrogen is a clean energy source and carrier because of its non−polluting combustion, making it an excellent alternative to the current fossil fuel-dominated energy scenario. Nonetheless, there are several critical challenges to implementing a broad sustainable use of hydrogen. In this project, we develop a laboratory−scale setup with stable operation and high hydrogen production.

We aim at assessing (i) different hydrocarbon feedstock (from n-heptane to crude oil) fed to the reactor with water as emulsions, carried by steam or vaporized; (ii) steam reforming (SR) and auto thermal reforming (ATR); and (iii) stable and energy efficient catalysts for the efficient production of hydrogen inside packed, fluidized, and multifunctional reactors. These, coupled with carbon capture technologies, minimize the carbon footprint of the overall process.

We support our research with simulations and techno−economic analysis to assess the approach's feasibility. C2H can use the current refinery infrastructure to reduce costs and the impact of market volatility on refinery operations.


  • Develop and scale up advanced catalysts and reactors for converting crude to hydrogen
  • Model process simulations to analyze the viability of the process 
  • Scaling the technical catalysts for their demanding application: endothermic process, poisoning, massive coke deposition, and fluidized-bed reactors
  • Analyze different process conditions to optimize hydrogen production and stability in the process

Related People

Related Publications

Effect of Thermal, Acid, and Alkaline Treatments over SAPO-34 and Its Agglomerated Catalysts: Property Modification and Methanol-to-Olefin Reaction Performance

by Zapater, Lasobras, Zambrano, Hita, Castaño, Soler, Herguido, Menendez
Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. Year: 2024 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.iecr.3c03956


SAPO-34 zeolite is one of the most well-studied methanol-to-olefin catalysts, with applications from laboratory to commercial scale. Here, we have studied the impact on the properties and performance of different modifications of a commercial zeolite, including thermal, acid, and alkaline treatments, along with its agglomeration with bentonite and alumina required in the technical catalyst. We prepared three zeolites and agglomerated them, making a total of seven materials, along with our benchmark catalyst. These were characterized and tested in a packed bed reactor. We analyzed the conversion, yield, and deactivation (coke) based on the effective acid site density ρAS* (a parameter correlating acid strength, density, and micropore volume). Thermal treatment increased the effective acid site density of the commercial zeolite by 60%, while only a 10% increase was found in the parent agglomerated catalyst. Acid etching increased the effective acid site density by 80%, while the basic treatment completely amorphized the framework of the zeolite. After agglomeration, the performance of the catalysts (by means of olefin production and deactivation) correlated with effective acid site density. The catalysts based on thermally and acid-treated zeolites performed best, while they had the lowest effective acid site density.