Hydrogen and Oxygen Production

Advanced Integrated Processes for Hydrogen and Oxygen Production

Hydrogen is an environmentally clean energy carrier that generates no greenhouse gases at the point of end use. It is anticipated that a successful hydrogen economy would reduce the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) to a great extent. This could be achieved by utilizing clean fossil fuel technologies for hydrogen production with CO2 capture and storage, or by eventually eliminating the use of carbon-based fossil fuels from the current energy mix.

Hydrogen has a wide range of physical and chemical applications. It is used as a reactant in the petroleum and chemical industries, in upgrading heavy oil, in oil sands applications, in the production of ammonia and methanol. It also has different physical and engineering applications. For example it can be used as a tracer gas for minute leak detection in the automotive, power generation, aerospace and telecommunication industries. Moreover, hydrogen in liquid form is used in cryogenic research, including superconductivity studies.

As an energy carrier, hydrogen has to be produced directly or indirectly from other energy sources, such as fossil fuels, nuclear, solar or wind. However, the challenge lies in separating hydrogen from other naturally occurring compounds in an efficient and economic manner. There are several methods for producing hydrogen. Steam methane reforming (SMR) is a well-established technology that allows hydrogen production from hydrocarbons and water. SMR is currently the most widely used technology for hydrogen production. Another conventional technique is electrolysis, which applies an electrical current to decompose water into hydrogen and oxygen molecules.

CanmetENERGY is working on the development of integrated thermo-chemical processes for the production of hydrogen and oxygen from advanced high-temperature energy conversion systems with CO2 capture. Our current research focus is on the development of advanced processes for the production of hydrogen and oxygen from water using high-temperature sources such as oxy-fuel combustion systems. The goal of this research project is to investigate the simultaneous mass production of hydrogen and oxygen from carbonaceous fuels through the integration of near-zero emissions combustion systems with these thermo-chemical processes.

The proposed activity will be conducted primarily at our pilot-scale combustion facility, in association with industry and academic partners. The proposed work will create a unique research platform for high-temperature combustion with simultaneous production of hydrogen and oxygen. This platform will lead to the creation of a database which will be indispensable to the large-scale implementation of this integrated approach for clean fossil fuel polygeneration complexes.