|H2Gen’s current analysis is that for use in vehicles, ethanol reforming as a hydrogen pathway produces fewer GHG emissions on a lifecycle basis than SMR-produced hydrogen, but at a higher cost. Click to enlarge. Source: H2Gen.|
The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota is leading a project to investigate the production of hydrogen at existing and future ethanol facilities. The hydrogen produced could be used on-site in fuel cells to provide additional power for the plant or as fuel for hydrogen vehicles.
Project partners include the US Department of Energy, the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council, the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council, Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company, and H2Gen Innovations. H2Gen is a provider of low-cost, on-site steam methane reforming (SMR) systems and gas purification plants.
Under the multiyear contract, the EERC’s Centers for Renewable Energy and Biomass Utilization are testing the technical feasibility of integrating hydrogen production with ethanol production.
Activities include optimizing the ethanol-reforming process, demonstrating utilization of the produced hydrogen for power generation, optimizing the design for future ethanol plants, and conducting a full economic evaluation of the technology.
The information gathered from these efforts will be used to better define system integration, energy input, and the operational conditions required to produce hydrogen at an ethanol facility.
Ultimately, numerous cost savings can be realized through integration of heat, power, and distillation systems within an ethanol plant. Additionally, if coupled with a fuel cell, overall plant efficiency could be improved.—Chad Wocken, EERC Research Manager