Vincenzo Spallina’s blog on his Flexible Funding 2018 CLYCHING project

We’re excited to share the blog report from Dr Vincenzo Spallina (University of Manchester) on his 2018 Flexible Funding research project, CLYCHING – CLean hYdrogen and CHemicals production via chemical loopING:

Chemical looping reforming with packed bed reactors has been demonstrated to achieve high performance for hydrogen chemicals production at lower cost and reduced CO2 emissions than existing benchmark technologies based on steam and autothermal reforming with CO2 separation using chemical solvent.

Figure 1: Schematic of the CLYCHING concept

The validity and robustness of the technology has been demonstrated at laboratory scale and from a modelling point of view at the University of Manchester.

The collaboration and interactions with our project partners, Johnson Matthey and Advisian, have been extremely important for the success of the project and the research activity is still continuing in further development.

The flexible funding provided by UKCCSRC for the CLYCHING project has supported this research to boost its development and move to higher demonstration level. Currently, a lot of attention has been brought to this technology from the scientific and industrial community. As a result, two follow up projects are currently ongoing funded by EU commission (H2020 GLAMOUR, GA 884197) and a new BEIS project has been selected for the feasibility study in the framework of BEIS Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply 2. The results of the project have been already published in two papers (Pereira et al. (2020) and Argyris et al. (2022)) in excellent journals and 2 more papers will be published soon.

Key results

The experimental research activity has been focused on testing laboratory large scale packed bed reactor dynamically operated up to 1000°C, and 5 bar and 40 NLPM using different gas compositions representative of industrial waste gases, renewable feedstock and other relevant feedstocks in chemical, oil & gas and energy industry. The oxygen carrier materials tested in this project were provided by Johnson Matthey.

Figure 2 Outlet molar fractions (dry) during complete CLR cycle

The results of the experimental campaign have demonstrated that: i) the initial solid temperature above 600°C is enough to achieve good conversion during oxidation and heat up the bed to high temperature for the reduction and reforming; ii) the effect of pressure is limited in terms of conversion; iii) the endothermic reactions of dry and steam reforming occur in an adiabatic reactor using the heat accumulated during the reduction/oxidation. The full CLR cycle has been run for 4 consecutive cycles in the facility at University of Manchester with controlled heat losses (Figure 2).

In terms of process modelling and feasibility study, the main research has focused on comparing the performance of the CLYCHING process with other benchmark technologies (see Table 1). These studies were supported by previous research performed on other techno-economic assessment for the production of large scale methanol and hydrogen (Spallina et al. 2018) The first study on ammonia production (Pereira et al. (2020), has demonstrated that the cost of NH3 can decrease by 10% compared to the conventional multi-stage reformer process integrated with CO2 separation plant with MDEA scurbbing. For a 500 kTPY, overall 7 reactors are needed (including one spare reactor to allow maintenance and avoid disruption in the operation).

Table 1: comparison of the techno-economic performance of CLYCHING and other benchmark processes.

CO2 emissions (CCR)CAPEX (TPC)Cost of productCost of CO2 avoidance
kgCO2/toni (%)M€€/toni€/tonCO2
Hydrogen30 kNm3/h3470 (64%)190 (98%)73.461.82006219070.659.8
950 (90%)107245095.6
Methanol10 kTPD220 (-)6 (>98%)20001150368.9304-303
Ammonia500 kTPY440 (>73%)3 (>99%)680593.6556527.617.6-5
FT- liquids52 kbbl/d47 (>95%)23 (>97%)3051242343041513.6-1


Another feasibility study has been published (Argyris et al. (2022)) on-site H2 generation plant (130 Nm3/h) with integrated CO2 capture operated with dynamic PSA and taking into account the impact of heat losses in terms of heat management and control. The modelling results have shown that fluctuations derived by the integration of two dynamic processes only affect the production of CO2 (never above ±20% of the concentration) and it can be greatly reduced by using a blowtank unit after the PSA, otherwise the oscillation are marginals.


Vincenzo Spallina acknowledges the UKCCSRC for providing the funding of this research. The fruitful support and contribution of Johnson Matthey Technology Centre and Advisian in the preparation, industrial development and realisation of this project are also highly acknowledged.