Electrified catalytic non-oxidative methane coupling for separated hydrogen and ethylene production.


The importance of effectively converting CH4 to H2 and high value-added hydrocarbons chemicals is becoming more significant due to the huge resources of CH4 and increasing demands for chemicals. Methane pyrolysis is at first sight an attractive process for generating hydrogen, but the large amount of low value carbon, high energy, and catalyst deactivation makes this economically challenging. In CAMELEON, we will electrify the catalytic methane conversion process for separated H2 and ethylene production via catalytic non-oxidative coupling of low-value carbon from CH4 at high pressure with in situ H2 separation, thanks to our novel catalyst, shock wave reactor and electrified membrane. Working at high pressure will allow the process to be highly energy efficient, converting the methane from natural gas pipeline conditions, and generating high value high pressure H2. This will be benchmarked to electrified methane pyrolysis producing H2 and solid carbon.

CAMELEON is in direct line with MOT3 and MOT4 by proposing the production of H2 via an electrified process. The use of an electrically driven shock wave reactor that allows to heat up the process gas in milliseconds with 90% power-to-heat energy efficiency in combination with an excellent control of the free radical chemistry will be a game changer for the initiation of methane. This will be combined with a fast direct resistively-heated catalytic membrane reactor for H2 separation. If renewable electricity is used CAMELEON has the potential to reduce entirely the 9-12 kg CO2/kg H2 emissions resulting from the production of H2 via the current state of the art Steam Methane Reforming, i.e., both the reaction and the energy requirements. On top of that, our technology will lead to the production of a valuable product (ethylene) versus e.g., methane pyrolysis where there is lack of market for the resulting carbon black. This is also a huge advantage compared to electrolysis where a lot of energy is used to produce primarily low value O2 with also some H2. If bio-methane would be used it further allows to reduce the SCOPE 3 emissions of this production route.

Supported with the considerable expertise of the consortium coordinator (Kevin Van Geem, TREE, UGent), as well as the presence of key actors from the field of catalysis (Vladimir Galvita, DACMA , from UGent), as well as electrification and process upscaling (Patrice Perreault from UA/ Blue App), we ensure a smooth commercial deployment of our proposed disruptive technology to higher TRL in the 2030-2040 timeframe. The successful technology transfer of the CAMELEON technology will be favoured by the presence of both CleanChem at UGent and the Blue App preincubator from UA. The proposed process with be further developed and scaled up within CleanChem and BlueApp after the MOT.

Economic considerations

The CAMELEON technology will be benchmarked against methane pyrolysis, a process for which the economics are competitive with SMR only if the solid carbon byproducts can be sold, and if the process can be operated at only 10-12 bar (optimal). If large amounts of hydrogen need to be produced alternatives to methane pyrolysis will need to be developed that have better economics. Our solution for sure has that potential. Antwerp is one of the largest centres for olefin production in Europe. The feedstock for the proposed project is undoubtedly available at an industrially relevant scale. The output of CAMELEON is the production of H2 and ethylene. The potential users from our technology development are numerous in Flanders, and specifically in Antwerp.

Project details

Project type
ESI Project
Research trajectory
Project status
Approved on
Project date
€2 061 315

Project Partners