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

Isolating the effect of Co and Ce on Ni–X–Y/Al2O3 bi- and trimetallic reforming catalysts for hydrogen generation

by Mohamed, Kulkarni, Velisoju, Zhang, Yerrayya, Bai, Kolubah, Yao, Morlanes, Castaño
Int. J. Hydrog. Energy Year: 2024 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhydene.2023.10.257


This work investigates the individual and combined promoting effects of ceria and cobalt on a nickel-based catalyst for steam reforming. First, the catalysts were synthesized using a fixed 20 wt% Ni content and variable Ce and Co, 0-10 wt% contents. We used a combined experimental (characterization and testing) and computational framework to assess the promoting role in catalytic activity and stability for nickel-alumina-based catalysts. The formation of Ni-Co alloy was approved by combining different characterization techniques. The Ni20Ce2Co10/Al catalyst exhibits superior conversion, H2 yield, and lifetime. The obtained catalytic activity is attributed to the presence of bare Co sites that reduces the Ni crystal size, enhances the accessibility of active sites, promotes the metal–support interaction, and facilitates C-C scission. In addition, the incorporation of Ce with low loading (2 wt %) to Ni-Co interface enhances the accessibility of oxygen vacancy, facilitates the reaction, prevents coke formation and maintains catalytic activity for prolonged lifetime. The simplicity and cost-effectiveness of this proposed catalyst make it an appealing option for scaling up.