Innova Hydrogen ($2M Pre-Seed funding for thermal pyrolysis of natural gas to produce clean hydrogen and graphene)

Innova Hydrogen, a Canadian hydrogen energy startup founded in 2021, develops methane thermal pyrolysis technology to produce clean hydrogen and high-quality graphene with zero carbon emissions.

Challenges: produce carbon-free hydrogen

Hydrogen (H₂) is a crucial component in the production of ammonia, which is a key ingredient in many fertilizers, plastics, and other essential products. The majority of the world’s hydrogen (over 60 million tons) is produced via steam methane reforming (SMR) process. This process requires a significant amount of energy input and contributes about 2% of global carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions. The SMR process emits between 5 and 9 tons of CO₂ per ton of hydrogen produced. Thus, alternative methods to produce hydrogen without carbon emissions are needed.

Innova Hydrogen Technology

Innova Hydrogen has developed a HIP™ reactor system for methane thermal pyrolysis to produce hydrogen with zero carbon emissions. The HIP™ reactor system uses natural gas as its only feedstock, without the addition of water and/or oxygen. The thermal reactor decomposes methane from the natural gas to hydrogen and high-quality graphene at 1,000 ºC with metallic iron catalyst. The graphene filaments are filtered and collected as valuable products. The carbon-free hydrogen is purified and stored. The whole process is energy efficient and has zero carbon emissions.

Innova Hydrogen HIP reactor

The diagram below depicts Innova Hydrogen’s HIP™ reactor system.

Innova Hydrogen technology for methane thermal pyrolysis (ref. WO2022251979A1)
Innova Hydrogen technology for methane thermal pyrolysis (ref. WO2022251979A1).

The HIP™ reactor system includes a feeding tube, a heat exchanger,  a catalyst precursor storage tank,  a HIP™ reactor, a filtration system, a Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) system, a hydrogen storage tank, pipes, and controllers and sensors (not shown).

  • Feeding tube

The feeding tube conducts natural gas to the HIP™ reactor. It is equipped with a heat exchanger which preheats feeding natural gas before it enters the HIP™ reactor.

  • Catalyst precursor storage tank

The catalyst precursor storage tank stores liquid iron pentacarbonyl (Fe(CO)₅). Iron pentacarbonyl vapor from the tank enters the feeding tube and high-temperature HIP™ reactor. Fe(CO)₅ decomposes to metallic iron catalyst in the reactor.

  • The HIP™ reactor

The HIP™ reactor is equipped with electrical resistance heating elements. For efficient methane pyrolysis, the HIP™ reactor is heated  to 1,000 ºC.

  • Filtration system

The filtration system receives the output of the HIP™ reactor, removes graphene, and produces an outlet stream of gas which contains trace amounts of graphene which is further filtered using an electrostatic filter.

  • Heat exchanger

The hot graphene-free gas is conveyed to a heat exchanger, which transfers heat to the feeding natural gas and results in cooled graphene-free outlet gas.

  • PSA system

The cooled outlet gas from the heat exchanger is conveyed into a Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) system, which produces pure hydrogen conveyed to the storage tank and recycled methane conveyed back to the reactor system.

How Innova Hydrogen technology works

The diagram below depicts how Innova Hydrogen technology works.

The working principle of Innova Hydrogen technology.
The working principle of Innova Hydrogen technology.

Before feeding natural gas, the feeding tube is preheated to 300 ºC and the reactor is heated to 1,000 ºC. Iron pentacarbonyl (Fe(CO)₅) vapors enters the reactor and decomposes to metallic iron catalyst at high temperature.

Once the reactor contains iron catalysts, natural gas is fed to the feeding tube, preheated to 300 ºC, and enters the hot reactor. Methane from the natural gas decomposes to carbon and hydrogen gas.

The nascent carbon transforms to microscopic graphene filaments on the surface of catalytic iron particles. Deposition of additional nascent carbon may thicken the graphene filaments by layering thereon additional individual filaments.

Once the reaction is complete, the hot output stream of the reactor comprises graphene, hydrogen, and residual unreacted methane. This mixture stream passes through a filtration system. The graphene filaments are filtered by coarse filter, fine filter, and electro-static filter. They can be periodically removed from filters.

The graphene-free hot gas stream then passes through the heat exchanger to transfer heat to the feeding natural gas. The feeding natural gas is preheated before it enters the reactor. This improves the energy efficiency of the system.

The cooled gas stream passes through a Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) system to separate hydrogen from unreacted methane. The obtained pure hydrogen is stored in a hydrogen tank, and the unreacted methane is fed back to the feeding tube for pyrolysis reaction.

Innova Hydrogen Patent

  • WO2022251979A1 Apparatus and method for producing graphene and hydrogen

Innova Hydrogen Technology Applications

Clean hydrogen production

Innova Hydrogen’s HIP™ technology produces high-purity hydrogen gas that can be used in fuel cells.

Graphene production

Innova Hydrogen’s HIP™ technology produces high-quality graphene, which can be used in batteries, solar cells, biomedical devices, electronics, superconductors, construction materials, sporting goods, clothing, and aerospace.

Innova Hydrogen Products

Innova Hydrogen’s HIP™ technology is a low-cost methane pyrolysis solution that converts natural gas into emissions-free clean hydrogen and high-quality graphene.

Innova Hydrogen Funding

Innova Hydrogen has raised a total of CA$2.2M in funding over a Pre-Seed round raised on Jul 1, 2021.

Innova Hydrogen Founder

Kamelia (Kami) Giles, Donny Bobocel, and Matt Desroches are Co-Founder.

Innova Hydrogen CEO

Kamelia (Kami) Giles is CEO.

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