Despite being much faster to fuel up than EVs, hydrogen fuel cell-powered cars have largely failed to make an impact. There are various reasons for that like the crazy expensive infrastructure and hydrogen’s explosiveness, but the main one is that from well to wheels, hydrogen cars are much less efficient than EVs. Now, researchers from Spain and Norway have unveiled a new method to convert methane to hydrogen with almost no loss of energy, perhaps making the vehicles (slightly) more feasible.
The system builds on a hydrogen production process called steam reforming. During the process used today, 700 to 1,000 degree Celcius steam reacts with methane (natural gas) under high pressure in the presence of a catalyst like nickel or platinum, producing H2, water and CO2. The problem is that only 65-75 percent of the methane’s energy is captured as hydrogen and the process still releases significant amounts of CO2 — about half of what your car produces when burning gasoline.