Catalyx Nanotech, Inc.,
a spin off from the technology incubator, Catalyx, Inc., announced that their
pilot project to convert landfill gas (LFG) to nanofibers has successfully started
operating at a closed southern California landfill. Previously, this pilot unit
was operating as a production plant in Burnaby, Canada, using natural gas as
the feed source and producing 2.0 Kg of nanofibers per day. The pilot project
currently operates on a reduced capacity for a single shift each day producing
approximately 0.5 Kg of high value Platelet Graphite Nanofibers and 2,000 liters
of "green" hydrogen from a completely renewable resource. The materials
are not being produced for commercial sale and will be used for extensive analyses
and tests for design of large-scale commercial production plants.
The pilot will help determine the operating limits of the proprietary process,
which relies on a patented catalyst to selectively crack methane and produce
structured graphitic platelet fibers and pure hydrogen, with no other byproducts.
First to Produce Nanofibers from Landfill Gas
While numerous companies claim to have a process to produce carbon nanomaterials
from methane, Catalyx Nanotech is believed to be the first to produce the nanomaterials
on a large scale from methane, especially from landfill gas. To further distinguish
Catalyx Nanotech from nanomaterial competitors, management has made a conscientious
decision to embrace a corporate social responsibility and sustainability attitude
and therefore optimize, rather than maximize, profits by using renewable sources
of methane, such as landfill gas and biogas, for feed materials.
"Previously, we have operated a commercial-scale nanofiber plant using
natural gas as the feed. We wanted to use this 'downtime' in the economy to
achieve our next milestone of using renewable sources of methane as the feed
to produce 'green' nanofibers and hydrogen," stated Mustafa Jangbarwala,
Catalyx Nanotech VP of Business Development.
"We understand that landfill gas and biogas may end up costing us a bit
more than natural gas, but the difference in costs is affordable, and regard
for our environment is far more important than capturing that difference,"
Mustafa Jangbarwala noted. "We believe corporations need to be responsible
in these arenas now, rather than wait for government mandates before they take
the steps that will help ensure a healthy environment for future generations."
99% Pure Nanofibers and 100% Green Hydrogen
"Our advantage is that we are able to produce nanofibers at greater than
99% purity, as well as 100% green hydrogen in a one-step process," says
Yinan Jin, Catalyx Nanotech Chief Research Scientist. "Purification of
nanomaterials from typical carbon batches is an extremely expensive undertaking
for commercial applications. Catalyx Nanotech is eliminating the extra work
and, consequently, the expense of separating nanofibers from byproducts, such
as amorphous carbon, soot, etc., that make nanomaterials so costly today. We
expect to commoditize nano-scale graphite materials at prices comparable to
high quality synthetic graphite used in electrodes and refractory applications.
After some preliminary test runs, we will also integrate a small fuel cell to
demonstrate how the electrochemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen can produce
electrical energy, as opposed to the direct combustion of hydrogen and oxygen
to produce thermal energy. This in situ generation of green electricity with
a zero-carbon footprint is just one possible use of the hydrogen."
Low Cost, Distributed Production Makes Hydrogen Economy Viable
"The key to the success of a hydrogen economy is affordability and the
availability of the hydrogen infrastructure," explains Juzer Jangbarwala,
Catalyx Nanotech Founder and Chairman. "By default, the number of landfills
is directly proportional to urban population centers. These landfills could
provide LOCAL sources of low-cost 'green' hydrogen to nearby filling stations.
By using renewable landfill gas, not only is the carbon footprint of the hydrogen
production process eliminated, but also much of the footprint associated with
transportation of hydrogen -- often hundreds of miles -- is also eliminated.
Catalyx Nanotech's technology can make hydrogen AFFORDABLE. Catalyx Nanotech's
approach all but eliminates the transportation that accounts for approximately
50% of hydrogen's cost and the 10% lost to leakage. Catalyx Nanotech's small
low-cost plants are easy to build, are low maintenance, and integrate easily
into existing landfill sites - a major advantage over alternative energy production
methods. Additionally, production costs are offset by the valuable nanomaterials
produced during the hydrogen production process.
Juzer concludes, "Our approach offers a viable way to a greener transportation
economy while employing environmentally friendly production processes and helping
reduce costs for the broad spectrum of products that utilize nanomaterials."
The pilot will run through June 30. Plant tours for potential clients and
landfill representatives are available by appointment through 6/30.