Chapter 5: Combustion Fuels, Hydrogen From Fission
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Hydrogen for Fire From Fission
Nuclear: The World's Largest Source Of Controllable Energy

Related Web Sites: 
The International Open Source Hydrogen On Demand Builders Network.


Hydrogen from Water

Basic hydrogen Generator


A nuclear powered hydrogen generation and carbon-neutral fuel refinery facility


(From Earlier Web Page)
Hydrogen Generation

Currently, it is most economical and environment friendly to obtain hydrogen from natural gas while capturing the CO2 that is also produced.

Hydrogen Production 101: 

Why Is This Technology Being Considered?

Near-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear-driven high-temperature thermochemical water splitting cycles produce hydrogen with near-zero greenhouse gas emissions using water and  nuclear energy

Hydrogen from Water for Making Synthetic Biocrude Vehicle Fuels
(Recall seeing fog - H2O - coming from an automobile's exhaust pipe?)

Hydrogen Production 101: 

"Hydrogen is a coveted gas: industry uses it for everything from removing sulfur from crude oil to manufacturing vitamins. Since its combustion does not emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, there is some belief that it could even fuel a potential "hydrogen economy"—an energy-delivery system based entirely on this one gas. But since there is no abundant supply of hydrogen gas that can be simply tapped into, this lighter-than-air gas has to be mass-produced.

IEA/HIA Task 25: High Temperature Hydrogen Production Process.  Filed under 2.353 - 5.0  2.353 - 5.0 - Sulfur_Iodine_Cycle.pdf 

One way to make hydrogen is by using heat to split water, yielding pure hydrogen and oxygen. Known as thermochemical water splitting, this method is appealing because it can take advantage of excess heat given off by other processes. Thus far, it has been attempted through multiple steps at temperatures below 1000 C—where, for example, the excess heat from nuclear reactors could drive the chemistry."

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Oil Refining Made Simple: 

Hydrogen from Water

Basic hydrogen Generator  High temperature heating rods 
CTL - Hydrogen Generator - Kanthal - Resistance heating alloys and systems for industrial furnaces .pdf  Good brochure - gives ohms for different heaters.  NETL Hydrogen and Clean Fuels
(Steam-Methane-Reformation using natural gas with carbon capture has a lot going for it also.) 

Two views of how it's done.









                              (Left)   Wikipedia                                                                                                   (Right)    Perdue Diagram


Hydrogen Basics

Hydrogen Basics - Production  (Florida Solar Energy Center  )

Hydrogen is not an energy source, but is an energy vector or carrier. This means that it has to be produced from one of the primary energy sources: fossil fuels, nuclear, solar, wind, biomass, hydro, geothermal and urban waste resources. All the energy we use, including hydrogen, must be produced from one of these three primary energy resources.

On earth, hydrogen is found combined with other elements. For example, in water, hydrogen is combined with oxygen. In fossil fuels, it is combined with carbon as in petroleum, natural gas or coal. The challenge is to separate hydrogen from other naturally occurring compounds in an efficient and economic manner. See the "Hydrogen Production Paths" chart below for unique ways to produce hydrogen from the three sources.

There are several methods for producing or extracting hydrogen. Steam reforming is a well-established technology that allows hydrogen production from hydrocarbons and water. Steam-methane reformation currently produces about 95 percent of the hydrogen used in the United States.

Another conventional technique is electrolysis, which applies electrical current to decompose water into hydrogen and oxygen molecules. The electricity for electrolysis can come from any of the three energy sources.

The cost of hydrogen production is an important issue. Hydrogen produced by steam reformation costs approximately three times the cost of natural gas per unit of energy produced. This means that if natural gas costs $6/million BTU, then hydrogen will be $18/million BTU. Also, producing hydrogen from electrolysis with electricity at 5 cents/kWh will cost $28/million BTU — slightly less than two times the cost of hydrogen from natural gas. Note that the cost of hydrogen production from electricity is a linear function of electricity costs, so electricity at 10 cents/kWh means that hydrogen will cost $56/million BTU.

Nuclear reactor buyer's guide.

Notice the green "Thermo-chemical Cycles" above the hydrogen economy label?  This green area depicts the temperatures needed to use thermochemical reactions such as "Sulfur-Iodine" to split water into its two elements, hydrogen and oxygen. 
Notice also the power range of hydrogen plant sizes?  Up to 1,200 megaWatts electrical.


A listing of the cost and performance characteristics of various hydrogen production processes is as follows:

Energy Required (kWh/Nm3)
Status of Tech.
Costs Relative
to SMR
Steam methane reforming (SMR)
Methane/ NG pyrolysis
R&D to mature
H2S methane reforming
Landfill gas dry reformation
Partial oxidation of heavy oil
Naphtha reforming
Steam reforming of waste oil
Coal gasification (TEXACO)
Partial oxidation of coal
Steam-iron process
Chloralkali electrolysis
Grid electrolysis of water
Solar & PV-electrolysis of water
R&D to mature
High-temp. electrolysis of water
Thermochemical water splitting
early R&D
Biomass gasification
early R&D
Photolysis of water
early R&D
Photoelectrochemical decomp. of water
early R&D
Photocatalytic decomp. of water
early R&D

This table was originally published in IEEE Power & Energy, Vol. 2, No. 6, Nov-Dec, 2004, page 43, "Hydrogen: Automotive Fuel of the Future," by FSEC's Ali T-Raissi and David Block

Cost of hydrogen from different sources

by Greg Blencoe on November 9, 2009          (  )


What is the cost of hydrogen per kilogram?

This is a simple question without a simple answer.

Many different ways to produce and distribute hydrogen

The cost of hydrogen per kilogram depends on many factors.

For example, how is the hydrogen produced?  Is it produced from natural gas, wind, nuclear, solar, or some other way?

If it is produced from natural gas, is the hydrogen made at the fueling station?  Or is it produced off-site and then delivered by truck?

If hydrogen is produced from wind power, how far away is the hydrogen fueling station from the wind-to-hydrogen production facility?  Is it closer to 10 miles, 100 miles, or 1000 miles away?

And is the fueling station in a very expensive location like Beverly Hills, California or a very inexpensive location like Amarillo, Texas?

The point is that there are a large number of factors that will affect the cost of hydrogen.

Miles per kilogram of hydrogen

Before estimating the cost of hydrogen per kilogram from various sources, the benefits of a kilogram of hydrogen need to be shown.  How does a kilogram of hydrogen used in a fuel cell vehicle compare with a gallon of gasoline used in an internal combustion engine vehicle?

The Toyota FCHV-adv hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (mid-size SUV) is basically a Toyota Highlander Hybrid with a fuel cell.  The Toyota FCHV-adv recently achieved 68.3 miles per kilogram in a real-world test with the Department of Energy.  On the other hand, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid gets an EPA-rated 26 miles per gallon.

The Toyota fuel cell vehicle is 2.63 times as efficient as the gasoline version.  Furthermore, a rule of thumb is that fuel cells are 2-3 times as efficient as internal combustion engines.

Therefore, a reasonable figure to use is 2.5 times as efficient.  This means the cost estimates below need to be divided by 2.5 to get the equivalent cost of a gallon of gasoline (i.e. $4 to $12 per kilogram of hydrogen is equivalent to gasoline at $1.60 to $4.80 per gallon).

Points to mention before showing cost estimates

Before providing the cost figures, a few things need to be mentioned:

1.  Taxes are included.

The average cost for gasoline taxes in the U.S. is currently about $0.50 per gallon.

Since a kilogram of hydrogen in a fuel cell will power a vehicle approximately 2.5 times as far as a gallon of gasoline in an internal combustion engine, the current average for gasoline taxes has been multiplied by 2.5 to get a figure of $1.25 per kilogram of hydrogen for taxes.

2.  The cost estimates assume mass production.

3.  All subsidies were taken out.

For example, the cost of wind power used below in the wind-to-hydrogen estimate is around 7 cents per kilowatt hour (which multiplied by the approximately 50 kilowatt hours of electricity needed to produce a kilogram of hydrogen via electrolysis would equal $3.50 for the energy costs).

This is an unsubsidized cost figure for electricity produced at large wind farms.

4.  As a point of reference, hydrogen (likely from natural gas) sold for $8.18 per kilogram at the Washington, D.C. Benning Road Shell fueling station in September 2008.  Moreover, hydrogen produced from hydroelectric power sold for $6.28 per kilogram in Norway back in May.

5.  There is absolutely no way of knowing what the exact cost of hydrogen would be right now in the scenarios below if millions of hydrogen fuel cell cars were on the road.  The estimates below are educated guesses based on what I have learned over the past five years.

Estimated cost of hydrogen per kilogram in a variety of scenarios

With all of this in mind, here are the cost estimates per kilogram (which each include $1.25 for taxes):

Hydrogen from natural gas (produced via steam reforming at fueling station)

$4 – $5 per kilogram of hydrogen

Hydrogen from natural gas (produced via steam reforming off-site and delivered by truck)

$6 – $8 per kilogram of hydrogen

Hydrogen from wind (via electrolysis)

$8 – $10 per kilogram of hydrogen

Hydrogen from nuclear (via electrolysis)

$7.50 – $9.50 per kilogram of hydrogen

Hydrogen from nuclear (via thermochemical cycles – assuming the technology works on a large scale)

$6.50 – $8.50 per kilogram of hydrogen

Hydrogen from solar (via electrolysis)

$10 – $12 per kilogram of hydrogen

Hydrogen from solar (via thermochemical cycles – assuming the technology works on a large scale)

$7.50 – $9.50 per kilogram of hydrogen

As mentioned above, a cost of hydrogen of $4 to $12 per kilogram is equivalent to gasoline at $1.60 to $4.80 per gallon.

[Photo credit: basykes]


News Items

Global refinery catalyst market forecast to grow 34% to $4.3B by 2018

22 March 2012 -

Refinery catalyst markets will reach $4.3 billion in 2018, up from $3.2 billion in 2011, according to a new research report from WinterGreen Research. Market growth comes in large part from demand for cleaner diesel fuel and the availability of newer technology and nanotechnology.

Hydrotreating catalysts will continue to achieve the best growth in the petroleum refining market, aided by the increasingly sour (i.e., higher sulfur) nature of the crude petroleum supplied to the market. Efforts by Brazil, China, India and Russia to improve their air quality by the introduction of low-sulfur fuels are ongoing. Hydrocracking and fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts will achieve advances, particularly in Asia as the growing motor vehicle fleet stimulates new gasoline and diesel fuel demand, according to the report.

Hydroprocessing catalysts—used to create cleaner fuels, especially ULSD—are the fastest-growing refinery catalysts. Demand is lower for the more mature fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts than the hydroprocessing catalysts, and hydroprocessing catalysts have passed FCC catalysts to become the largest segment of the refinery catalyst market.

Reforming catalysts are fundamental to the modernization of product reformate. They contain hydrocarbons with more complex molecular shapes having higher octane values than the hydrocarbons in the naphtha feedstock. The process separates hydrogen atoms from the hydrocarbon molecules and produces significant amounts of byproduct hydrogen gas.

Hydrogen is useful for fuel cells, meaning that refineries could become environments for generating electricity. Hydrogen is useful in stationary fuel cells that are evolving a market for providing local power in campus environments. Local power generation is becoming more valued as people realize that the cost of conditioning electricity for the grid is an unnecessary expense in local power environments. The use of hydrogen and the manufacture of hydrogen in refinery environments could become significant aspect of markets, the report suggests.

These factors have attracted manufacturers to refinery catalysts, as these help extract relatively more diesel and gasoline from the same amount of crude oil. The refinery catalyst market is thus boosted by the fact that the efficient use of catalysts can help the manufacturers’ better address the increasing energy demand. Hydroprocessing faces significant challenges as crude feeds get heavier; there will be more sulphur and nitrogen to extract; more aromatics to saturate; more metals to remove; and more coke to deal with. Refiners have aging facilities, which may not be designed and optimized to meet new challenges.

—Susan Eustis, the lead author of the study


A Better Way to Get Hydrogen from Water

Mark E. Davis
Courtesy of TEDxCaltech

A Better Way to Get Hydrogen from Water

Caltech researchers demonstrate a clean technique for using heat and catalysts to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Kevin Bullis

Tuesday, June 19, 2012  -  Technology Review – Published by MIT

An experimental approach to splitting water might lead to a relatively cheap and clean method for large-scale hydrogen production that doesn't require fossil fuels. The process splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using heat and catalysts made from inexpensive materials.

Heat-driven water splitting is an alternative to electrolysis, which is expensive and requires large amounts of electricity. The new approach, developed by Caltech chemical-engineering professor Mark Davis, avoids the key problems with previous heat-driven methods of water splitting. It works at relatively low temperatures and doesn't produce any toxic or corrosive intermediate products.  

Almost all the hydrogen used now in industrial processes, such as making gasoline, comes from reforming natural gas. If automakers start selling large numbers of hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles, as they've said they plan to do eventually, the hydrogen for those is also likely to come from natural gas unless processes like the one at Caltech are commercialized.  

The basic approach in high-temperature water splitting is to heat up an oxidized metal to drive off oxygen, and then add water. In Davis's case, the starting material is magnesium oxide, and the reactions are facilitated by shuttling sodium ions in and out of it. "Without the sodium, the temperatures would go up well over 1,000 °C," Davis says. With it, the reactions work at temperatures of 850 °C [1,560°F] or lower.

The technology is probably far from being commercialized. It still requires pretty high temperatures—a couple of hundred degrees higher, for example, than those used to drive steam turbines at coal and nuclear power plants. Producing those temperatures without fossil fuels would probably involve one of two technologies, neither of which is being used commercially right now: high-temperature nuclear reactors or high-concentration solar thermal facilities that use rings of mirrors to concentrate sunlight more intensely than occurs today in solar thermal power plants. 

The Caltech approach would also need to be tested to make sure the water-splitting cycle can run repeatedly. So far, the researchers have shown that the same materials can be reused five times, but "if you were going to have one of these things work for real, you'd need to run it for thousands of cycles," Davis says. He says such testing is beyond the scope of his lab. "We feel good about the potential for many cycles on this one, but until you do it, you don't know," he says. "All we did here is prove the chemistry could work."

The rate of hydrogen production would also need to be increased—for example, by switching to materials with a higher surface area. And Davis hopes to lower the temperatures needed still further. The goal is to use this process or a similar one to make use of waste heat at steel mills and power plants. "This is a good start, but the lower we go, the better," he says.



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