Southern Co., Ohio St. to test syngas-to-hydrogen chemical looping process

Ohio State University and Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) have signed a collaborative testing agreement to demonstrate the high-pressure syngas-to-hydrogen chemical looping process. The testing will be performed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Carbon Capture Center, operated by Southern in Alabama.

Chemical looping is a novel process for effectively converting carbon-based fuels to electricity, hydrogen and/or liquid fuels with near-zero carbon emissions. This process could achieve one of the lowest cost and most efficient technologies yet developed for carbon dioxide (CO2)-freeenergy from coal.

The Ohio State syngas iron looping process circulates various iron oxide forms through different reaction zones. Carbon-based fuel is first oxidized to CO2, captured and sequestered, and simultaneously iron oxide is reduced to its elemental form. After the reducer, the elemental iron is oxidized by steam, producing hydrogen and an intermediate iron oxide form. The intermediate iron oxide is then burned in air to produce a more reactive iron oxide, which is circulated back to the reducer.

The patented Ohio State syngas chemical looping process uses countercurrent moving bed reducer and oxidizer and iron-based composite oxygen carriers under reduction-oxidation conditions. In particular, the unit converts coal syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen, to carbon-freeenergy carriers. The system allows both electricity and hydrogen co-production as compared to other chemical looping technologies.

The project was co-funded by the DOE and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the Ohio Department of Development’s Office of Energy through the Ohio Coal Development Office, and industrial partners Babcock & Wilcox (NYSE: BWC), Consol Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX), and ClearSkies Consulting.

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