Hydrogen Approach Reaches Milestone

Researchers have succeeded in producing hydrogen from steam.

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Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, Idaho, have succeeded in producing hydrogen from steam at a 5.6 m3/hr rate via high-temperature electrolysis in a so-called Integrated Laboratory Scale (ILS) experiment, a major scale up from earlier trials. Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen at 800°C is more efficient than traditional electrolysis, they note. The ILS unit, which relies on technology originally developed for solid-oxide fuel cells, consists of 720 cells that in total are about the size of a steamer trunk.

The researchers envision coupling the high-temperature electrolysis technique with an advanced nuclear power plant, using that plant’s heat and some of the electricity generated for the electrolysis. Such a setup could produce hydrogen at 45% to 55% efficiency, say the researchers.
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