Technology for Blue Hydrogen Production - Autothermal Reforming (ATR) - India Renewable Energy Consulting – Solar, Biomass, Wind, Cleantech
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Technology for Blue Hydrogen Production – Autothermal Reforming (ATR)

Here’s an article posted in ID Tech Ex that talks about the power of Autothermal Reforming

According to the article,

  • ATR is a combination of partial oxidation and steam reforming, converting hydrocarbons like natural gas into syngas.
  • ATR runs at harsher conditions than normal steam-methane reforming (SMR), which reduces catalytic bed blockage and allows more waste-heat recovery


Autothermal reforming (ATR) is a widely used process for the production of hydrogen, particularly in the context of blue hydrogen production. Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas, with the resulting CO2 emissions captured and stored, making it a cleaner alternative to traditional grey hydrogen production, which emits CO2 directly into the atmosphere. Let’s delve into the process of autothermal reforming and highlight some key data points and informative facts:

1. Process Overview:

Autothermal reforming combines partial oxidation (POX) and steam methane reforming (SMR) processes in a single reactor. It involves the reaction of natural gas (methane – CH4) with steam (H2O) and oxygen (O2) to produce hydrogen (H2), carbon monoxide (CO), and carbon dioxide (CO2).

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2. Reaction Equations:

The main reactions in autothermal reforming are as follows:

Partial Oxidation (POX): CH4 + 1/2O2 → CO + 2H2

Steam Methane Reforming (SMR): CH4 + H2O → CO + 3H2

Water-Gas Shift Reaction (WGS): CO + H2O → CO2 + H2

3. Catalyst:

Autothermal reforming is typically facilitated by a catalyst, often based on nickel (Ni), supported on alumina (Al2O3) or other suitable materials. The catalyst helps to accelerate the reaction rates and improve process efficiency.

4. Operating Conditions:

  • Temperature: ATR operates at high temperatures ranging from 700°C to 1100°C to facilitate the endothermic reforming reactions.
  • Pressure: Typically operated at pressures ranging from 20 to 50 bar to maintain thermodynamic equilibrium and enhance reaction rates.

5. Energy Balance:

ATR is an exothermic process due to the partial oxidation reaction, which releases heat, and an endothermic process due to the steam methane reforming reaction, which absorbs heat. The balance between these reactions is crucial for maintaining temperature control within the reactor.

6. Efficiency:

  • Autothermal reforming offers high efficiency in hydrogen production compared to other methods.
  • Efficiency can exceed 70% depending on various factors such as reactor design, catalyst activity, and operating conditions.

7. Hydrogen Purity:

  • ATR typically produces hydrogen with high purity, often exceeding 95%.
  • The purification steps following the reforming process ensure the removal of impurities such as CO, CO2, and methane to meet desired hydrogen purity standards.

8. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS):

  • In the context of blue hydrogen production, CO2 generated during the reforming process is captured and stored underground through carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
  • CCS helps mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, making blue hydrogen a cleaner alternative to grey hydrogen.

9. Industrial Applications:

  • ATR is widely used in various industries such as ammonia production, refineries, and petrochemical plants.
  • It serves as a key step in the production of hydrogen for use in fuel cells, chemical synthesis, and other industrial processes.

10. Environmental Impact:

  • While blue hydrogen production significantly reduces CO2 emissions compared to grey hydrogen, it still involves the release of CO2 during the reforming process.
  • The effectiveness of blue hydrogen in reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions depends on the efficiency of the carbon capture and storage (CCS) process.

Autothermal reforming plays a vital role in the production of blue hydrogen, offering high efficiency, hydrogen purity, and versatility for industrial applications while contributing to efforts to mitigate climate change through carbon capture and storage technologies.

Interestingly, we have some other posts related to this content:

Air Liquide’s Autothermal Reforming Technology Selected for Low-Carbon Hydrogen and Ammonia Production in JapanATR technology chosen for low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia production in Japan’s pilot project, with Air Liquide Engineering & Construction providing the technology



About Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi)

Narsi, a Director at EAI, Co-founded one of India's first climate tech consulting firm in 2008.

Since then, he has assisted over 250 Indian and International firms, across many climate tech domain Solar, Bio-energy, Green hydrogen, E-Mobility, Green Chemicals.

Narsi works closely with senior and top management corporates and helps then devise strategy and go-to-market plans to benefit from the fast growing Indian Climate tech market.

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