Terraform Industries converts electricity and air into synthetic natural gas

Saturday, April 6th, 2024

Terraform Industries converts electricity and air into synthetic natural gas via a system it calls the Terraformer:

Roughly the size of two shipping containers, the Terraformer consists of three subsystems: an electrolyzer, which converts solar power into hydrogen; a direct air capture system that captures CO2; and a chemical reactor that ingests both these inputs to produce pipeline-grade synthetic natural gas. The entire machine is optimized for a one-megawatt solar array.

Terraformer Diagram

The result is some fairly staggering cost reductions: Terraform says its system converts clean electricity into hydrogen at less than $2.50 per kilogram of H2 (currently, green hydrogen ranges from $5-11 per kilogram, Handmer estimated). The direct air capture system also filters CO2 for less than $250 per ton, which the company said in a statement, is a world record.

The startup says that improvements are already in the works to bring these prices down even further to ensure that its synthetic natural gas hits cost parity with conventionally sourced liquified natural gas. Much of that is dependent on the build-out of lots (and lots and lots) of cheap solar power, and the requisite production of thousands of Terraformers per year.


  1. Namur says:

    Well, it’s all about EROI (Energy Returned on Invested).

    Can this machine produce more energy in the form of natural gas than it consumes in the first place? Also, the energy to build and operate it also counts.

    Now, let’s say that it works: we are still far away for something like it that works for Diesel, the holy grail of our energy society.

  2. Bruce says:

    Very glad to see @TerraformIndies here. This could be really big. For example, why not put a Terrform Indies converter on every nuclear power plant in front of those electric heaters in the cooling towers? Closer to where people need natural gas than oil wells where they just burn the natural gas off because it’s not worth transport costs.

    And if CO2 is bad, like the climate change people say, it’s great to have a way to turn CO2 to something useful.

    And worse case, it’s a subsidy for smart hardworking people who think ahead. Subsidize things, get more of them.

  3. Gaikokumaniakku says:

    If it’s “synthetic,” they could just call it “synthetic methane,” right? Calling it “synthetic natural gas” makes my brain hurt because I like to think that natural things are not synthetic.

    I love methane tech because I was raised on Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Typically I like to see it as a way of dealing with dung from agriculture, but I am a fan of methane tech regardless of how they make it.

  4. Bob Sykes says:

    How effing stupid are we supposed to be. The energy input to make the methane will be several times the energy of combustion when the methane is burned.

    And, of course, all the methane will become exactly the amount of carbon dioxide originally removed from the atmosphere.

    Net, no carbon dioxide removal. And considering all the carbon produced during the manufacture of the Terraform system and the solar/wind systems, this proposal actually increases atmospheric CO2.

    And the cost claims are lies. This is criminal fraud.

  5. Bruce says:

    Green energy is a patronage fraud, and Terraform Industries is working with it. But their tech isn’t a fraud.

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