Hydrogen is the lightest element in the periodic table and the most abundant chemical in the universe. Hydrogen is a zero-carbon fuel source that offers a very high energy output compared to its unit of weight. When hydrogen is burned with oxygen, the output is water (H2O). At Monolith, we believe hydrogen fuel will be a vital third pillar in the energy transition, working alongside renewable energy sources (primarily wind and solar) and battery storage.
Monolith has made the methane pyrolysis process work on a commercial scale. Methane pyrolysis uses natural gas as feedstock and heats the molecules until they crack – cleanly separating them into hydrogen and carbon. By heating the molecules and not burning them, we don’t create CO2. This enables us to make Clean Hydrogen cost-effectively through a very scalable technology.
We don’t burn the methane we use as our feedstock – we heat it to very high temperatures. That means we don’t create any CO2 in our processes. In addition, we use 100% renewable electricity to power our operations. Those are the two primary criteria to be classified as Clean Hydrogen.
There won’t be just one path to reaching the world’s decarbonization goals by 2050. Many believed that renewable energy (wind and solar) was the answer, supported by battery storage. What world energy leaders quickly realized is that these clean energy sources will only achieve about 20% - 25% of the world’s renewable energy goals. Wind or solar energy, for example, can’t power an airplane. The batteries required to power an ocean liner would take up all available storage. As a fuel – and in several industrial applications – the energy output-to-weight ratio of hydrogen cannot be equaled.
Renewable natural gas or biogas that is created in municipal landfills and water treatment systems can be used by Monolith as a feedstock. Even traditional natural gas contains plant elements that have pulled CO2 from the atmosphere to grow before breaking down and becoming methane. By mixing traditional and renewable natural gas, Monolith’s methane pyrolysis process is cleanly repurposing CO2 that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere through other methods.
Right now, Monolith acquires its renewable power through renewable energy certificates (RECs). It purchases credits each month to help develop renewable energy infrastructure and offset greenhouse gas emissions from traditional power generation. At the same time, Monolith supports the development of a renewable energy infrastructure project in the central U.S. that is one of the biggest in the region. We will continue to encourage the development of renewable energy sources to provide 100% renewable electricity to our facilities.
Unlike other processes which sequesters carbon by capturing it and/or burying it, Monolith turns the carbon it produces into high-value carbon black. Carbon black is a top 50 material in the world that is used in automotive (tires, belts, hoses) and industrial applications (conveyors, inks, batteries), and consumer goods (food packaging, electronics, toys).
Engineering is nearly complete on the expansion of our facility in Nebraska, which will generate 12 times the output of our current facility, yet only requires 2 – 3 times the footprint. From our pilot plant in Seaport, California, to our current commercial-scale facility, to our expanded facility set to begin construction in Q4 of 2021, Monolith has proven scalability with each phase of our technology development. And we’ve only just begun.
Ammonia, for starters. Our expansion in Nebraska will include a clean ammonia production facility, which will produce approximately 275,000 tons of ammonia annually. This helps fill a 1.75 million-ton deficit in the U.S. Corn Belt, a significant player in feeding a growing world population. From there, applications are endless, including transportation fuel, industrial and steel manufacturing applications.
“The Hydrogen” is our belief that while it will take several production methods to meet the world’s decarbonization goals, Monolith’s hydrogen is the best because it’s both cleanly and cost-effectively produced. “To Power” is to underscore our belief that a successful energy transition is high consumption and low emission. “A Green World” demonstrates our vision to achieve a genuinely green world, not a greener world, but to help reset the planet to be the green world it was meant to be.