Hydrogen from coal gets bigger

SIX research and development projects that will produce hydrogen from coal at large-scale facilities were selected by the US Department of Energy this week.

Angie Tomlinson

Pure hydrogen can be produced from hydrogen-containing materials such as water and fossil fuels. Until other resources are available to produce hydrogen at lower costs, production from coal is the most economical source, the DOE said.

The large-scale production of hydrogen from coal faces several technological challenges that must be overcome before its widespread use becomes a reality.

The projects will concentrate on two areas of interest: ultra-pure hydrogen and process consolidation.

Ultra-pure has the potential to be used in a number of end-use applications, including hydrogen turbines, fuel cells, and modified internal combustion engines. Three projects will focus on the development and scale-up of advanced materials and devices for producing ultra-pure hydrogen from coal-derived synthesis gas.

Process consolidation strategies are needed for selectively removing pure hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and synthesis gas impurities in a single-reactor configuration that can operate simultaneously at high temperature and high conversion.

Three projects will perform a combination of theoretical and experimental research to provide a scientific basis for consolidating multiple processes – synthesis gas clean-up, water-gas shift reaction, hydrogen separation, and carbon dioxide separation – into a single module.

The six projects total nearly $US9.4 million in value, with DOE providing $7.4 million and industry partners contributing more than $1.8 million.

Those awarded the funding include Praxair, Southwest Research Institute, United Technologies Research Center, Media and Process Technology, Ohio State University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.