United States – The US Department of Energy has conditionally granted Monolith a $1.04 billion loan to expand its turquoise hydrogen and carbon black production operations in Hallam, Nebraska.
Starter Monolith intends to use the loan to accelerate the commercial deployment of a methane pyrolysis technology. This so-called turquoise route uses renewably sourced electricity to convert natural gas into hydrogen. Some of which will be converted to ammonia for fertiliser, and also for carbon black, used in a range of applications ranging from tyres, building materials and as a soil enhancer.
The 20-year loan will help fund the company’s expansion of its Olive Creek plant to become the largest carbon black production facility in the US with production of 194,000 tonnes per annum.
This appears to give Monolith a global lead in the production of hydrogen and carbon via this turquoise route. Chemical giant BASF, for example is also building a pilot plant in Ludigshafen for methane pyrolysis. Commercial application seems to be still some time away. After 2025 commercial upscaling may follow.
A major advantage for Monolith is that prices for natural gas in the US are stably low. This while European gas prices are very erratic and currently peak enormously.