According to the climate-tech company, their model means they can offer turquoise hydrogen at little to no cost, as there is a thriving market for the by-product produced during the process – high-quality graphene. Here Levidian CEO John Hartley answers H2 View’s questions.
John, thanks for giving H2 View your time. We understand Levidian is blazing a trail in decarbonisation and hydrogen production. Give us your elevator pitch…
John Hartley (JH): Thanks for having me! Levidian is a Cambridge-based climate-tech business. Our team has developed a transformational device – LOOP – which uses proprietary technology to crack methane into hydrogen and carbon, locking the carbon into high-quality graphene. This has huge potential for decarbonising heavy industry while the graphene produced can go on to create further decarbonisation benefits across a range of different sectors.
Can you simply explain your LOOP technology and how it works?
JH: Our technology uses electromagnetic waves and a patented design to ionise methane (the molecule that makes up natural gas and one of the most damaging greenhouse gases) into a plasma. During this process, the methane is cracked into its component atoms: hydrogen and carbon. The carbon is locked away in our high-quality graphene – which can then be used in many applications to strengthen and improve existing materials – and hydrogen, which can be put straight back into the gas supply or stored and used elsewhere. Unlike other methane cracking processes, our LOOP technology doesn’t apply heat or use any catalysts to work.
Why is this technology important for the hydrogen industry?
JH: This is a vital step forward for the hydrogen industry and decarbonisation more broadly. The benefits of LOOP are that it’s modular, meaning it can be deployed easily and smoothly almost anywhere, and it docks quickly and easily with existing infrastructure. Businesses everywhere are putting increasing focus on their net-zero plans, but for those that are reliant on significant heat or power, there aren’t many options to decarbonise. LOOP offers a way to decarbonise an existing natural gas supply and drop hydrogen back into the industrial processes, in a different way to what’s currently possible.
National Grid was recently announced as Levidian’s first major customer. Tell us about this partnership and how National Grid will be using the LOOP technology?
JH: Our trial with National Grid is backed by Network Innovation funding and will explore how National Grid could reinforce parts of the gas pipe network from the inside, by using graphene as corrosion-resistant internal coating.
Reinforcing the network in this way could increase the country’s ability to transport and access clean hydrogen, allowing existing infrastructure to be repurposed rather than completely dug up and replaced – minimising disruption and making the switch to hydrogen easier for consumers and businesses.
We are working with National Grid to make this graphene from deploying a LOOP onto their network, creating a circular benefit of decarbonising their gas and giving them the graphene to increase their ability to take increasing levels of hydrogen.
What other industries or applications could benefit from Levidian’s LOOP technology?
JH: The possibilities really are endless for LOOP – National Grid is just the first of many partnerships we will be announcing. As discussed, LOOP can be easily deployed anywhere and docks with existing infrastructure, which means is has the real possibility to benefit many sectors and industries, especially heavy industries such as natural gas, steel, and chemicals production.
Here are two we are really excited about and will be announcing more on soon:
Decarbonising gas from water treatment facilities and using the graphene it produces to lower the carbon footprint of the large amount of concrete this industry uses
Decarbonising gas from oil and gas facilities so we remove the need to flare gas which is hugely damaging to the climate.
I think we can all agree hydrogen has seen significant momentum in recent years. In your opinion, what do you think are the barriers to wider hydrogen adoption?
JH: There are two things that I think contribute to the fact that hydrogen hasn’t been adopted as quickly as we’d like to see. The first is scalability. There are quite a few ways of producing hydrogen, but some of these are hard to operate at large scale without significant environmental impacts like high water consumption. This is one of the reasons why we made LOOP modular – it will give us some flexibility as we scale.
The other is cost – producing hydrogen is still expensive. Using LOOP to generate hydrogen allows us to control the cost, as the cost of producing the hydrogen is offset by the value of the graphene that is also produced by LOOP.
What is Levidian doing to help overcome these barriers?
JH: We’re working with industry partners, government and policymakers to highlight these challenges to the existing categorisation system and trying to show it can be a blocker to innovative new UK businesses. Our discussions, along with our partner organisations, are progressing and we hope to see change in the not too distant future. Our vision is for hydrogen to be a mainstay of UK power, and we need diversity across the market to achieve this!
Is Levidian working on any other exciting hydrogen solutions you can tell us about?
JH: There are always exciting new projects going on at Levidian and the National Grid trial of LOOP is a great example. Current focus projects for us are to target getting gas as an input which would otherwise be vented into the atmosphere so we can help reduce high methane emissions. As we have more we can talk about, you’ll be the first to know!