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What is it?

A combination of SMR and combustion of the fuel (methane), where steam is added to the oxidation process. The heat from the oxidation component supplies the energy required for the steam reforming process.

Why is it important?

Steam methane reforming and partial oxidation are integrated into a single system, in which heat integration has been incorporated.


  • Inputs: Hydrocarbons, oxygen, steam, heat
  • By-products: CO2
  • Operating temperature: >500°C
  • Energy efficiency: 60-75%


  • High selectivity to syngas
  • Flexible H2/CO ratio for syngas production, for subsequent production of synthetic fuels
  • Less clean-up required than pyrolysis options
  • Can use CO2 as a reagent
  • Lower process temperature than partial oxidation
  • Heat from fuel combustion is used to supplement the SMR component - lower parasitic heat load as a result
  • The SMR and combustion components are integrated into a single unit
  • Low carbon/soot formation which minimises pressure drop and reduces OPEX
  • Compact design, small footprint relative to other fossil fuel conversion methods
  • Rapid start-up time


  • Extensive control system required
  • Requires air or oxygen
  • Requires CCUS to achieve low carbon emissions

RD&D priorities

  • Improve appliance and plant design for greater flexibility in ramping up and ramping down
  • Develop and demonstrate effective means of integrating carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) to achieve zero-to-low carbon emissions
  • Develop cheap and effective hydrogen separation systems to obtain appropriately pure hydrogen for specific applications
  • Integrate renewable energy sources. For example, concentrated solar power can act as a thermal energy source for the process
  • Develop burner designs for optimal mixing and catalysts to cope with severe operating conditions

Known active organisations

  • The Australian National University
  • The University of Newcastle

Other opportunities like this

  • A chemical loop utilises a recyclable metal with water and hydrocarbon feedstocks to produce hydrogen, water and carbon dioxide. The metal is involved in a repeating cycle of reaction steps

  • Coal or oil is heated in the absence of oxygen, in order to degrade it into char, pyrolysis oil and syngas.

  • Coal is reacted with controlled amounts of oxygen and/or steam at high temperatures to produce syngas (hydrogen and carbon monoxide) which also contains carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour. Gasification involves four stages: drying, pyrolysis, combustion, and gasification reactions.

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