The US Department of Energy has issued up to a $5-million Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000103) to solicit laboratory-level R&D projects to develop novel technologies for producing hydrogen from coal. The program, which is an initiative supportive of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) Fuels/Hydrogen Program Area, is seeking applications in two areas: novel, non-precious metal hydrogen separation for use with coal-generated syngas; and general coal-based hydrogen production R&D.
The program is intended to reduce environmental concerns associated with energy use in automotive and stationary power applications through clean production of hydrogen from coal in tandem with carbon sequestration, and is to ensure availability of hydrogen in sufficient volumes for fuel cell-powered vehicles expected to enter the transportation market sector in the future, according to the FOA.
Worldwide demand for energy is growing at an alarming rate. Energy demand is expected to grow at an average of rate of 1.8% per year worldwide through 2030. The increased demand is being met largely by petroleum reserves, which are located outside of the United States. The United States imports more than 60% of its petroleum, two-thirds of which is used to fuel vehicles in the form of gasoline and diesel. This dependency makes the US vulnerable to supply disruptions. Alternative sources of fuel are necessary to maintain economic prosperity, quality of life, cost-competitiveness, and energy security. Electricity and hydrogen together represent one of the most promising ways to achieve these objectives.—DE-FOA-0000103
Hydrogen can be produced domestically from various energy resources. Platinum group metals (PGM)—Platinum, Palladium, Rhodium, Ruthenium, Iridium and Osmium—currently play essential roles in hydrogen production and fuel cells technologies and to the commercialization of fuel-cell vehicles. Issues associated with current membrane development—including resistance to contaminants in syngas, temperature limitations, durability, and cost—have led to the need for alternative methods of producing hydrogen from coal-based facilities.
Topic 1: Novel, non-precious metal hydrogen separation. Hydrogen separation membranes may be used in a variety of locations in a gasification-based coal-to-hydrogen production process, depending on the capability of the membrane to withstand temperature and pressure conditions as well as variations in gas composition.
Hydrogen separation membranes have historically utilized precious Group VB and VIIIB metals, employed either as standalone membranes, alloys or coatings on highly permeable substrates. Commercial acceptance and deployment of hydrogen separation membranes utilizing Group VB and VIIIB metals could potentially have global economic and environmental impacts.
The PGM occur in nature in close association with one another, as well as with nickel and copper. Platinum and palladium are found in the largest quantities in most PGM ores, while rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium are produced only as co-products. Global deposits of PGMs are quite limited with the largest quantities located in South Africa and Russia. Currently, there are fewer than ten significant PGM mining companies in the world with declining production over the past 10 years. With the limited global diversity of resources and production capabilities, the supply of these precious metals can be unduly influenced and therefore restrain the ability to deliver centrally produced hydrogen via membrane separation technologies, the FOA notes.
|NETL 2015 Membrane Targets|
|H2 flux*||300 SCFH/ft2 (~150 sccm/cm2)|
@ 100 psi ΔP H2 partial pressure.
|Temperature||250 to 500 °C (482 to 932 °F)|
|Pressure performance||ΔP 800 to 1000 psi|
|S tolerance||> 100 ppm|
|*Standard conditions are 150 psia hydrogen feed pressure and 50 psia hydrogen sweep pressure.|
In this topic area, DOE is seeking applications at the laboratory-level for innovative membrane materials, concepts and strategies which separate hydrogen from a coal-based system sufficiently enough to meet the DOE 2015 targets of flux, selectivity, cost and chemical and mechanical robustness, without the use of PGMs. Technologies of interest include, but are not limited to polymers, ceramics, metals, glasses, eutectic salts and combinations thereof, but must show potential to meet all DOE targets in testing strategies outlined in the NETL Membrane Test Protocol.
Topic 2: Hydrogen production R&D. Some of the issues associated with current membrane development, such as resistance to contaminants in syngas, temperature limitations, durability, cost, etc. have led to the need for alternative methods of producing hydrogen from coal-based facilities. However, the FOA notes, with the majority of hydrogen separations technology development leaning towards membranes, minimal work has been completed using alternative methods of successfully meeting DOE high-purity hydrogen targets.
DOE is seeking laboratory-level research exploring novel methods (thermochemical, electrochemical, photochemical, biological, organocatalysis, adsorption, etc.) for central hydrogen production implementing various methods via coal-based facilities.
These methods may include direct routes where high purity hydrogen gas is the primary product or indirect routes where, for example, synthetic natural gases or synthetic liquids, e.g, methanol, are first produced from coal then subsequently transformed to high-purity hydrogen; or any combination of such pathways.
Other feeds that can be implemented at these coal-based facilities to produce hydrogen include, but are not limited to, biomass, algae, water, carbon dioxide, industrial gases such as ammonia, or combinations thereof. These methods must meet the DOE 2015 targets of purity, hydrogen production rate, and costs. Processes based upon natural gas only and electrolysis of water are not sought.