Utilization of Domestic Fuels for Hydrogen Production

S.T. Mirabal, H.A. Ingley, N. Goel, and D.Y. Goswami


Hydrogen production, steam reformation, partial oxidation, coal gasification, thermal decomposition, economic analysis


Hydrogen is expected to play a major role in the global energy sector in the mid- to long-term future. In order for that to happen, we must be able to produce hydrogen in an environmentally responsible and cost-effective way. The co-utilization of hydrogen and resources like coal and biomass for hydrogen production may provide a short- term transition to the long-term prospects of solar and biomass for cleaner and more efficient fuel mixtures to meet future energy needs. This article describes the present status of the conventional hydrogen production technologies and some of recent developments in the production of hydrogen using solar energy resources. We outline the technological status for commercial and near-commercial technologies using both fossil-based and renewable energy sources such as electrolysis using PV and solar thermal power. We found that conversion of fossil fuels and electrolysis of water using solar conversion technologies are some of the most important methods of H2 production. An economic analysis for hydrogen production costs is presented comparing steam reformation, partial oxidation, coal gasification, and electrolysis via photovoltaics and solar thermal power. Although fossil fuels are currently the cheapest and most widely used sources of hydrogen production, we argue from an economic standpoint that renewable sources of hydrogen, such as biomass and solar, are the most promising options for the future. Further, solar hydrogen represents a storable fuel that is produced from this nonstorable and intermittent source of energy.

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