Low carbon process improves hydrogen yields from coal and biomass

While the cleanest hydrogen is produced from renewables, and the majority from natural gas, there remains industrial demand for cheap hydrogen from cheap sources. Coal or biomass solid fuel reactors can be used to cheaply produce hydrogen, but the low yield and carbon emissions have hitherto made this an unattractive long-term solution.

However, researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Yonsei University (South Korea) have now found a way to produce higher yields of ultra-pure hydrogen from solid feedstock. Dr Hyungwoong Ahn, a Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, explains:

“By integrating a coal‐to‐hydrogen process with carbon capture, the hydrogen yield per unit coal feed can be greatly improved using the carbon capture unit on a synthesis gas stream generated by coal gasification. This helps to improve the hydrogen yield by greater and more efficient use of the H2 Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) tail gas – an important separation process for gases and applied widely in gas purification and gas recovery.”

The researchers claim that their method increases yields by 2%. Furthermore, by using the byproduct waste gas to fuel a carbon capture unit, the system is cleaner than it would otherwise be, if still a long way from carbon neutral.

The University of Edinburgh is excited by the new process, and their Research and Innovation arm is looking to partner with industry to license the technology. Anybody interested in finding out more about the technology with a view to a collaborative research or license agreement should click through here to find out more.