Hydrogen production from natural gas and biomethane with carbon capture and storage - A techno-environmental analysis

Cristina Antonini, Karin Treyer, Anne Streb, Mijndert van der Spek, Christian Bauer, Marco Mazzotti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Citations (Scopus)
266 Downloads (Pure)


This study presents an integrated techno-environmental assessment of hydrogen production from natural gas and biomethane, combined with CO2capture and storage (CCS). We have included steam methane reforming (SMR) and autothermal reforming (ATR) for syngas production. CO2is captured from the syngas with a novel vacuum pressure swing adsorption (VPSA) process, that combines hydrogen purification and CO2separation in one cycle. As comparison, we have included cases with conventional amine-based technology. We have extended standard attributional Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) following ISO standards with a detailed carbon balance of the biogas production process (viadigestion) and its by-products. The results show that the life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) performance of the VPSA and amine-based CO2capture technologies is very similar as a result of comparable energy consumption. The configuration with the highest plant-wide CO2capture rate (almost 100% of produced CO2captured) is autothermal reforming with a two-stage water-gas shift and VPSA CO2capture - because the latter has an inherently high CO2capture rate of 98% or more for the investigated syngas. Depending on the configuration, the addition of CCS to natural gas reforming-based hydrogen production reduces its life-cycle Global Warming Potential by 45-85 percent, while the other environmental life-cycle impacts slightly increase. This brings natural gas-based hydrogen on par with renewable electricity-based hydrogen regarding impacts on climate change. When biomethane is used instead of natural gas, our study shows potential for net negative greenhouse gas emissions,i.e.the net removal of CO2over the life cycle of biowaste-based hydrogen production. In the special case where the biogas digestate is used as agricultural fertiliser, and where a substantial amount of the carbon in the digestate remains in the soil, the biowaste-based hydrogen reaches net-negative life cycle greenhouse gas emissions even without the application of CCS. Addition of CCS to biomethane-based hydrogen production leads to net-negative emissions in all investigated cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2967-2986
Number of pages20
JournalSustainable Energy and Fuels
Issue number6
Early online date11 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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