Roadmap for thermochemical hydrogen production (Innovative High Temperature Routes for Hydrogen Production)
François Le Naour,
PSA Contact: Manuel Romero,
617 k€. Budget CIEMAT 55 k€.
September 1, 2004 – December 31, 2006

The accelerated development of the so-called hydrogen economy must unavoidably be through innovative technologies for its mass production without ontaminating emissions and at competitive prices. The use of thermochemical cycles that achieve thermal decomposition of the water molecule in consecutive redox stages is extraordinarily attractive, but requires the use of a clean, unexhaustible energy source, such as solar energy. The number of thermochemical cycles analyzed in the literature is enormous, but most of the options have only been studied theoretically or at the most at laboratory scale. The interest in a roadmap is to compile the information available on the various processes and propose joint master lines of action in the European arena.

The INNOHYP-CA (Innovative high temperature routes for HydrogenProduction–Coordinated Action) Project is a Concerted Action funded by the European Commission 6th Framework Program, the purpose of which is a review of the state-of-the-art in innovative mass CO2-emission-free thermochemical hydrogen production. The project goals are:
  • Assess the state of the art in mass high-temperature hydrogen production processes
  • Rank these technologies with regard to conventional fossil fuel processes.
  • Define the need for research and propose priority activities for a European roadmap
  • Create a platform for sharing and coordinating results of research in these processes, in collaboration with the International Partnership of Hydrogen Economy.

The project began in September 2004 and finished in December 2006, so during this last year, the work program was completed and the final report was sent into the European Commission. The results of the project have been presented at a Seminar for diffusion that took place in Brussels on November 29, 2006. The state-of-the-art review offers a selection of promising processes, grouped in three categories :

Decarbonization transition processes, first-generation and alternative or second generation, water-splitting processes. The roadmap includes development of pilot plants for transition processes by 2015 using solar methane reforming technologies, solar gasification of carbonaceous materials and carbothermal reduction of zinc oxide. During the same period, lab-scale development would be carried out in order to undertake pilot plants from 2015 to 2020 for SI, Westinghouse, mixed Ferrite and high-temperature electrolysis water splitting technologies. In a third stage, development would culminate in the more technologically demanding alternative cycles, such as the ZnO/Zn cycle or the Figure 3.21 Lines of thermochemical hydrogen production activity and projects at the PSA less known CuCl and Ce Cl, which would hypothetically go into pilot plants around the year 2025. The roadmap incorporates parallel development of horizontal R&D activities in materials, components such as high-temperature heat-exchangers and test benches.

Oresol simplified basic process diagram
CEA (F) coordinator, CIEMAT (E), Empresarios Agrupados (E), ENEA (I), DLR (D), Univ. Sheffield (UK), JRC-Petten (UE), CSIRO (Australia).