Thermochemically Integrated Solid State Hydrogen Separator and Compressor

Period of Performance: 01/01/2011 - 12/31/2011


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Fuelcell Energy, Inc.
3 Great Pasture Rd.
Danbury, CT 06813
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


With the depletion of fossil fuel reserves, hydrogen-based energy is becoming increasingly significant. Production, purification and compression of hydrogen represent key technical challenges. Hydrogen is most commonly produced from steam methane reformers, by gasification or as a refining or chemical system off-gas. All of these production systems require purification and compression steps and current systems often use substantial energy to operate and are costly. Hydrogen is also produced by FuelCell Energys (FCEs) commercially available high temperature Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plants. FuelCell Energy, Inc. (FCE) proposes to address process intensification by developing a Thermally Integrated Solid State Hydrogen Separator and Compressor (EHSC) based on High Temperature Membrane technology (150-250C), which will efficiently and cost effectively combine the shift, purification and compression steps of hydrogen production into one device. In Phase I of this SBIR program we successfully demonstrated a baseline, lower cost solid-state hydrogen compressor cell capable of separating hydrogen from reformate streams containing up to 5,000 ppm CO and compressing it from atmospheric pressure to & gt;50 psig. We also demonstrated successful thermal integration of the water gas shift reactor with heat recovery efficiency of 80-85%. In Phase II, we anticipate extending this effort to scaling up the EHSC by increasing both the cell area and number of cells in the stack, increase of the pressure capability to 300 psi, scale-up of the shift reactor by up to two orders of magnitude, and evaluating it using actual reformate slip streams to demonstrate a production unit energy efficiency & gt;70%. The hydrogen market is huge, currently about 10 million tons/year in the US alone and a multi-billion dollar business. Most of the hydrogen is used by industrial markets, such as refineries, ammonia production, chemical plants etc., either used on-site or shipped via pipeline. FCE is developing the Thermally Integrated EHSC for these markets, as well as for distributed hydrogen and electricity co-generation using FCEs current DFC and future Solid Oxide Fuel Cell products.