“Revolutionary Achievement: Terraform Industries Transmutes Electricity and Air to Synthetic Natural Gas Inaugurally”

The modern world is dependent on a vast network for extracting, processing, transporting and ultimately consuming hydrocarbons like crude oil and natural gas. Instead of reducing humanity’s dependence on hydrocarbons — which is impossible or undesirable or both, depending on who you ask — Terraform Industries’ solution is to produce this resource, using electricity and air, via a system it calls the Terraformer. Today, the startup is announcing that it has commissioned a demonstrator Terraformer and produced synthetic natural gas for the first time. 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 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.

The contemporary world relies heavily on an extensive network to extract, process, transport, and ultimately consume hydrocarbons such as crude oil and natural gas. However, these resources come at a price: they are finite, difficult to extract, and contribute to the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Instead of reducing the world’s dependence on hydrocarbons – which some may argue is impractical or undesirableTerraform Industries proposes a different solution. Utilizing electricity and air, their Terraformer system aims to create hydrocarbons. This startup has recently announced the commissioning of a demonstrator Terraformer and produced synthetic natural gas for the very first time.

The Terraformer, which is approximately the size of two shipping containers, comprises three subsystems: an electrolyzer that converts solar power into hydrogen, a direct air capture system that captures carbon dioxide, and a chemical reactor that combines the two inputs to produce pipeline-grade synthetic natural gas. This entire system is optimized for a one-megawatt solar array.

As CEO Casey Handmer admits, the company’s concept is not entirely original. Electrolysis and Sabatier chemical reactors are well-established processes. However, Terraform Industries has managed to innovate on the process by constructing their own direct air capture system and adapting all elements to function with a variable energy source, specifically solar power. Therefore, while each subsystem’s origins may be traced back to the 19th or 20th century, the entire process is entirely innovative.

The result of these innovations is a significant reduction in costs. Terraform claims their system can convert clean electricity into hydrogen for less than $2.50 per kilogram, while green hydrogen typically ranges between $5-11 per kilogram. The direct air capture system, which filters carbon dioxide, is also impressively cost-effective at less than $250 per ton. According to the company, this is a world record.

While the startup has already embarked on improvements to reduce these costs even further, their goal is to achieve cost parity with conventionally sourced liquefied natural gas. The key factor in this pursuit is the utilization of abundant and inexpensive solar power, supported by the production of thousands of Terraformers annually.

Admittedly, CEO Casey Handmer is a highly ambitious thinker. However, he is also well aware that Terraform’s success hinges on creating a compelling business case.

“Many groundbreaking technologies to address the climate crisis are not compatible with capitalism as they do not generate profits but consume them. This makes it difficult to scale such solutions. However, by finding a way to make more money than it consumes, we can embrace the tent of capitalism, where money naturally flows. That’s our ultimate goal.” – Casey Handmer

Headquartered in Burbank, California, Terraform has already secured agreements to sell small amounts of their synthetic natural gas to two unnamed utilities. Handmer sees this as a crucial step in their journey. He states, “This proves that we have produced natural gas that meets their standards.”

The company is also exploring the possibility of prototyping or selling standalone electrolyzers as separate products and producing other synthetic fuels besides methane. Additionally, Terraform is now accepting reservations for their first production Terraformers, with the ultimate aim to build factories that will transform the world’s existing energy systems.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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