PEP Review 84-1-3
Hydrogen by Methanol Decomposition
Published: May 1985
This review examines technology for the production of hydrogen from methanol and describes its competitive position in comparison with the standard steam reforming process using natural gas, electrolysis of water, and purchased hydrogen available from a pipeline or in bulk liquid or gaseous form.
Because they have assumed that the price of methanol will continue at current low levels, given increasing worldwide production capacity, several engineering companies have developed technology for producing hydrogen by the decomposition of methanol (sometimes referred to as methanol reforming). These processes can be designed to meet the purity and demand needs of a wide range of hydrogen consumers. A process developed by Haldor Tops�e seems particularly interesting because the equipment it requires is constructed on a modular basis and has a low capital investment requirement. Several commercial units have been constructed using the new technology, and companies are promoting its use at production capacities ranging from 1,750 to 70,000 SCFH (50-2,000 Nm3/h).
Our economic evaluation indicates an apparent economic window exists for hydrogen via methanol decomposition in the capacity range of 30 to 1,000 million SCF/yr (3,750 to 125,000 SCFH) for consumers who do not have pipeline (low cost) hydrogen available. At the higher capacity range the methanol process cannot compete economically with the standard reforming process, and at the lower capacity range with the electrolysis of water or the purchase of bulk hydrogen.