About Our Company
ZoneFlow Reactor Technologies, LLC, focuses on the development of reactor technologies to improve the efficiency of the production of hydrogen and syngas by the steam methane reforming (SMR) process. Founded in 2007, our Company has since completed all of the basic research and development to bring its first generation of reactors to the threshold of commercialization.
Our Company is addressing the core technology of a massive industry at the heart of the modern economy. SMR is the dominant process worldwide for the production of hydrogen and its derivatives, representing about $50 billion/yr of capital and operating costs. Oil refining, ammonia for fertilizers, direct reduced iron (DRI) from iron ore, and methanol production all use the SMR process. We estimate that if our reactor technology were applied to all of the new SMR production capacity projected to be built in the hydrogen, ammonia, and DRI segments in the next ten years, the net value of the capital and energy savings relative to the next best technology alternatives would be $6.0Bn. If our Company’s reactor technology were applied to half of the existing hydrogen, ammonia, and DRI SMR plants, expanding their capacity by 25%, the value relative to the use of the best alternative technology would be $13Bn.
Development of our ZoneFlow Reactor technology began in the inventor’s garage with cold physical modeling of rapid prototypes of our first reactor designs. From there we moved on to sophisticated computational fluid dynamics analysis in collaboration with two of the world’s leading academic experts and authors on SMR reactor design. (Both of them continue to work closely with our Company.) Extensive finite element analysis and then physical testing of prototype reactors subsequently helped us ensure the mechanical integrity of our reactors. Using hot reactor test apparatus we built in the Hydrogen Production and Utilization Laboratory of the University of California at Davis, we were then able to measure the performance of our new reactors and refine our designs.
In July 2012, we installed our reactors in two of the 204 reactor tubes in the radiant zone of a commercial SMR plant. They operated there, successfully and continuously, through June 2014, when they were removed when the plant was down for routine maintenance. Subsequent evaluation showed no significant wear and tear on the reactors. In the meantime, we have adapted our reactor concepts and designs for application in other types of SMR plants and portions of such plants other than the radiant zone. During 2015, we will test these additional reactors in cooperation with several prominent SMR operators, catalyst suppliers, and engineering firms. Upon the completion of these pilot and industrial tests, we expect to commence licensing of the reactors for both new and existing plants.