BayoTech provides hydrogen generation systems on site for the agriculture, fuel cells, and energy industries. BioTech’s compact and adaptable systems can manufacture up to 1,000 kilograms of hydrogen per day using existing natural gas pipelines or co-located biogas resources.
Challenges: hydrogen fuel
The majority of hydrogen (H2) is currently produced in large production facilities. Hydrogen gas must be liquefied, transported, and stored for days to weeks at the expense of carbon emissions in order to reach customers.
The steam-methane reforming (SMR) process produces 95% of the available hydrogen (about 60 million tons) today. This established industrial process generates hydrogen from a methane (CH4) source, such as natural gas, and high-temperature water steam (700°C–1,000°C). In SMR, methane reacts with steam under pressures between 3–25 bar (1 bar = 14.5 psi) in the presence of a catalyst to produce hydrogen and carbon monoxide (CO): CH4 + H2O (+ heat) → CO + H2. Due to the endothermic nature of the SMR reaction, heat must be given for the reaction to proceed.
Then the water-gas shift (WGS) process generates additional hydrogen and carbon dioxide from carbon monoxide and steam using a catalyst: CO + H2O → CO2 + H2 (+ heat). This process generates heat (exothermic). Carbon dioxide and other impurities are removed from the gas stream to produce essentially pure hydrogen. In current systems the WGS causes an increase in the temperature of the process flow, which restricts the WGS conversion fraction.
BayoTech offers tiny, modular distributed systems for on-site hydrogen production at the point of need, eliminating the need for liquefying, transporting, and storing, hence reducing carbon footprint. Due to the simplicity of its design, maintenance expenses are also significantly reduced.
BayoTech’s hydrogen generators employ nested-flow technology to leverage high heat recuperation to maximize energy efficiency.
The technology of nested-flow was developed at Sandia National Laboratories. It is a system of flow channels developed through the nesting of circular tubes. These tubes offer a flow channel between the inside of an outer tube and the outside of an inner tube. The flow channel is kept open by incorporating spacers within the flow channel that do not significantly restrict flow. For heat transfer between two fluid flows moving in opposite directions, one fluid is heated while the other is cooled.
Hydrogen Generation System
The hydrogen generation system of BayoTech consists of an SMR reactor and a WGS reactor that produce hydrogen gas from steam and hydrocarbons (such as natural gas, biogas, methane, methanol, or other suitable hydrocarbons).
The SMR reactor has bayonet-style flow channel. It consists of an outer tube and an inner tube contained within the outer tube. The outer tube’s first end is closed, while the inner tube’s first end is open. The flow channel is located inside the inner tube and in fluid connection with the annular space between the outer and the inner tubes.
The bayonet flow path of the SMR is concentric. This arrangement permits the transfer of heat from the high-temperature fluid running along the flow channel to the fluid flowing along the annular space. Utilizing recuperated heat to increase the temperature of the fluid moving along the annular space can lower the amount of heat supplied by the furnace to get the fluid flowing along the annular space to the reaction temperature.
The first end of the annular space is filled with catalytic foam, which contains catalysts that promote hydrogen generation. It also contains thermally conductive material to facilitate heat transfer from the furnace to the running reactant fluid within the catalytic foam.
Heat transfer foam is positioned both along the annular space and within the flow channel within the inner tube. The outer and inner heat exchange foams allow the fluid in the annular space to be preheated before it reaches the catalytic foam, utilizing extra heat recovered from the higher temperature fluid circulating through the flow channel.
An elongated baffle is positioned along the inner tube to enhance the heat transfer efficiency.
At the second end of the outer tube, the annular space of the bayonet flow channel is fed with hydrocarbons and water (steam). The fluid moving along the annular space is heated to the reaction temperature (600°C – 1000°C) by the furnace at the first end of the SMR reactor. In the presence of catalytic foam at the first end of the outer tube, the hydrogen production process produces hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which are output along the flow channel via the outlet of the second end of the inner tube.
The temperature of the SMR outlet products fluid is affected by the SMR’s setup (e.g., the position, length, porosity, or other characteristics of the catalytic foam and the heat exchange foams) and by the operation of the SMR (e.g., the flow rate of fluid along the bayonet flow path of the SMR).
An SMR reactor can include multiple sets of tubes, which can be operated in parallel for increased throughput and can be heated by a single external heat source.
The SMR reactor’s outputs, including hydrogen gas, carbon monoxide, and excess steam, are fed into a WGS reactor. Carbon monoxide and steam are reacted in the WGS reactor in the presence of a WGS catalyst to generate additional hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide.
The WGS reactor comprises a housing, a reaction tube disposed inside the housing, and an inner tube disposed within the reaction tube (optionally). A reaction channel is an annular space between the inner tube and the reaction tube. A cooling fluid channel is an annular space between the reaction tube and the housing. The optional inner tube is also used as a cooling fluid channel.
In the reaction channel, a WGS catalyst and a heat transfer material are positioned. The arrangement of the WGS catalyst and the heat transfer material can be altered to improve the efficiency in hydrogen generation, operation within a specified temperature range, or other objectives.
For example, the WGS reactor can be designed as a two-catalyst system with a heat transfer material positioned between the two WGS catalysts. In this design, the first WGS catalyst catalyzes the WGS hydrogen generation reaction at elevated temperatures between 200°C to 450°C. The second WGS catalyst catalyzes the WGS hydrogen generation reaction in a lower temperature range.
A heat transfer material is positioned between the first and second WGS catalysts in the reaction channel. The heat transfer material allows in-situ heat transfer from the fluid moving in the reaction channel to the cooling fluid moving in the cooling fluid channels in opposite direction. This heat transfer lowers the temperature of the gas flowing along the reaction channel to the temperature range at which the second WGS catalyst can catalyze the hydrogen production reaction. Additionally, heat transfer materials are positioned in the cooling fluid channel and the inner cooling fluid channel to enhance the in-situ heat transfer.
At the first end of the WGS reactor, reactant fluid output from the SMR enters the reaction tube and flows along the reaction channel. Along the reaction channel, a hydrogen generation reaction occurs in the presence of a WGS catalyst. The hydrogen production reaction produces hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide, which are output from the reaction channel via an outlet at a second end of the WGS reactor.
Due to the exothermic nature of the hydrogen production process in the WGS, the generated heat is absorbed by cooling fluid water flowing along cooling fluid channels to promote the reaction. Moreover, the cooling fluid is heated by the high temperature reactants moving along the reaction channel, producing steam or a mixture of liquid water and steam for input into the SMR reactor.
The hydrogen generation systems offered by BayoTech are flexible and energy-efficient. The systems can be upgraded or turned down without significant downtime. Elements of the systems, including as tubes, manifolds, flanges, and catalysts, can be simply disassembled or replaced, allowing for minimal downtime for maintenance or operational modifications.
BayoTech’s hydrogen generation systems are designed to function autonomously and are remotely monitored from a central control station. The system is intended to have a 98% availability rate, including both planned and unscheduled maintenance.
The BayoCare™ program includes monitoring, routine inspections, and all annual maintenance including parts and labor.
The quality management system for the H2-1000 hydrogen generation system is ISO 9001:2015 certified.
BayoTech has raised a total of $174.1M in funding over 4 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Jan 5, 2021 from a Series C round.
BayoTech has acquired IGX Group, Inc. on Jul 1, 2021.
Mauricio Vargas is CEO.
BayoTech Board Member and Advisor
Mauricio Vargas is Board Member.