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Integrated Solar Micro-Reactors for Hydrogen Synthesis by Steam Methane Reforming

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Hydrogen is a vital product in the energy, agriculture and steel sectors and represents a market of 150 billion dollars/year. Moreover, with the increasing deployment of fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen refueling stations, it is also a promising carrier of clean energy for transportation. Most of today's hydrogen (95%) is produced by steam methane reforming (SMR), using natural gas as feedstock. In this process, up to 35% of the raw material is burned simply to provide heat, emitting 500 million tonnes of CO2 per year (equivalent to Canada's total annual CO2 emissions). Cost effective and environmentally friendly hydrogen production processes are needed to reduce the ecological footprint and therefore electrically heated SMR is a promising way to generate more environmentally friendly H2. To achieve this, the research team developed a unique electrically heated micro-reactor, which performs the SMR process at low cost.


The technology consists of a micro-reactor that includes a network of 3D channels, in which SMR, water-gas displacement (WGS), vaporization and heat exchange occur. The small dimensions of the SMR catalytic bed make it possible to use the catalyst in powder form. This integration of processes in a monolithic block, together with the high-volume manufacturing methods, allow the solution to produce hydrogen at a low and competitive cost.



  • Efficiency:

    • Low-cost synthesis: syngas (syngas), H2, biocommodities

    • Rapid ramp-up time (less than 10 minutes)

  • Versatility:

    • Production of various products (H2 or Syngas)

  • Ease of use:

    • Localized maintenance

    • Security operations


  • Eco-friendly:

    • Avoids CO2 emissions in the SMR process by using electric heating, rather than burning fossil resources.

  • Reduced CAPEX costs: 40 to 50% cheaper compared to other technologies based on renewable energies:

  • Thanks to better integration/miniaturization of components leading to material reduction (e.g. up to 10 times less catalyst than traditional SMR)

  • Reduced OPEX costs: 20 to 38% cheaper than other technologies to produce partially green or fully green H2 (ex. Electrolysis, SMR + Renewable Natural Gas Charges and SMR + Carbon Capture)


  • Industrial: this sector represents 73% of H2 production (H2 is mainly used for the production of fertilizers, the desulfurization of oil, the production of methanol and steel)

  • Transport: growing gas station market, but small market ($3 billion/year by 2023)

  • Power-to-gas: injecting environmentally friendly H2 into natural gas networks. ($2.2 billion/year by 2026)



  • PCT application WO2019095067A1


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Project Director: Josianne Vigneault

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