Hydrogen Approach Reaches Milestone

Dec. 4, 2008
Researchers have succeeded in producing hydrogen from steam.
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.