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

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Related Publications

Polymeric Waste Valorization at a Crossroads: Ten Ways to Bridge Research on Model and Complex/Real Feedstock

by Hita, Sarathy, Castaño
Green Chem. Year: 2021


The valorization of polymeric wastes, such as biomass, tires, and plastics, via thermal depolymerization (i.e., pyrolysis or liquefaction) and simultaneous or subsequent catalytic treatment has gained enormous momentum. The inherent hurdles when using complex polymeric wastes or their products as feedstock have led researchers to conclude that obtaining a fundamental kinetic understanding of the catalytic stage is unfeasible. To overcome the issues related to feedstock complexity, the majority of researchers have decided to use representative model compounds or probe molecules (i.e., surrogates). Two separate mainstreams have emerged in this field: one focusing on the fundamental kinetic understanding of model molecules and the other focused on studying real feedstock. We aimed to merge these approaches to utilize and acknowledge their potential and drawbacks. Therefore, herein, we provide ten recommendations for exploiting the existing synergies between the two approaches. This manuscript first contextualizes our proposed recommendations with a short overview on the thermocatalytic valorization field for polymeric waste, the complex compositions of reactants and products, the progress made in the individual fields of model and real feedstock, comparisons of both feedstock types, and some previous history on hydrocarbon conversion. Subsequently, we present guidelines for a truly cooperative and synergetic research effort.