Bill Gates-Led Fund Backs Clean Hydrogen start-up

Tech start-up C-Zero splits methane into hydrogen and solid carbon, eliminating much of the greenhouse-gas impact.

C-Zero’s technology uses innovative thermocatalysis to split methane – the primary molecule in natural gas – into hydrogen and solid carbon in a process known as methane pyrolysis.

The hydrogen can be used to help decarbonize a wide array of existing applications, including hydrogen production for fuel cell vehicles, while the carbon can be permanently sequestered. When renewable natural gas is used as the feedstock, C-Zero’s technology can even be carbon negative, effectively extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and permanently storing it in the form of high-density solid carbon.

The company’s tech appealed Energy Ventures because the world will need access to gaseous fuels like hydrogen at large scales and low costs to meet climate targets. Developing the process “needed both cheap natural gas and the world to care about reducing CO₂ emissions,” said Zachary Jones, C-Zero’s chief executive officer. Both those conditions have been met only in recent years, with the fracking boom overlapping with the urgency to act on climate change.

Also Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has invested in C-Zero to accelerate the first commercial-scale deployment of C-Zero’s drop-in decarbonization technology, which will allow industrial natural gas consumers to avoid producing CO2 in applications like electrical generation, process heating and the production of commodity chemicals like hydrogen and ammonia. The investment has been executed through Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Inc.

Thermocatalysis which splits methane – the primary molecule in natural gas – into hydrogen and solid carbon in a process known as methane pyrolysis, is one of the topics of the clean hydrogen conference.

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