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Economic analysis of hydrogen production by methane thermal decomposition: Comparison to competing technologies

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-273
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Conversion and Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


This study is a comparative analysis of hydrogen production costs in current and potential future market environments. The economic feasibility of hydrogen production by thermal decomposition of methane was compared to two other technologies, namely steam methane reforming and water electrolysis. According to the results, thermal decomposition of methane would be most suited for on-site demand-driven hydrogen production in small or medium industrial scale. Hydrogen production by thermal decomposition of methane would be economically competitive with steam reforming with a product carbon value of at least 280-310 EUR/tonne. By contrast, the main benefit of thermal decomposition of methane in comparison with water electrolysis is the feedstock availability via the current natural gas infrastructure, whereas electrolysis is highly dependent on the cost and availability of renewable electricity. The major factors affecting the economic feasibility were identified as product carbon value in thermal decomposition of methane, natural gas cost in steam reforming, and electricity cost in electrolysis. Thus, the effect of these variables on the hydrogen production costs was analyzed. Additionally, the specific carbon dioxide emissions in hydrogen production by thermal decomposition of methane (40 kgCO2/MWhH2) were found to be much less that by steam reforming coupled with carbon dioxide capture from the syngas (133 kgCO2/MWhH2).


  • Methane decomposition, hydrogen, economic analysis, carbon dioxide emissions

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