Superior Catalysts for Steam Methane Reforming to Syngas

Period of Performance: 02/17/2015 - 11/16/2015


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Nextech Materials, Ltd.
404 Enterprise Drive Array
Lewis Center, OH 43035
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Abstract: In this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, NexTech Materials proposes to use novel structured catalysts for steam methane reforming (SMR) to syngas. Methane is the major component of shale gas with vast quantity and is very stable. In addition to using methane as fuel, converting methane to value-added chemicals has been extensively studied in recent decades, such as steam reforming and partial oxidation to syngas, oxidative coupling to ethylene, and selective oxidation to methanol and other chemicals. Among them, SMR is the only process used today, while the other approaches are still far away from commercialization because the low product yields make them uncompetitive to the SMR. Commercial SMR catalysts are Ni/Al2O3 pellets and rings promoted with MgO and CaO. It is known that SMR is a highly endothermic reaction and the process is energy intensive. The reaction rate and syngas yield are normally controlled by the heat transfer in the process. In order to improve the syngas productivity, NexTech will develop structured catalysts for improving heat transfer and mass transfer in this project. The powder catalysts will be synthesized at NexTech to improve their intrinsic activity. After the catalyst formulation is optimized, the most active catalysts will be adapted to metallic substrates for enhancing heat and mass transfer and reducing pressure drop. It is expected that the syngas productivity will be increased significantly on the advanced catalysts when they are applied to conventional fixed-bed reactors as compared to the current state-of-the-art catalysts. Key Words: steam reforming, SMR, natural gas, shale gas, methane, syngas, carbon monoxide, hydrogen, catalyst and nickel. Summary for Members of Congress: In this SBIR project, NexTech Materials Ltd. will develop superior catalysts to convert shale gas to carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which are further used to produce other value-added chemicals.