Introduction to Production of Hydrogen Gas

All forms of natural gas contain methane and this can be used to create hydrogen gas.  Water is also made up of hydrogen as well as oxygen and so hydrogen gas can be created from this simple element.  This can be done using the heat processes such as steam methane reform method and the partial oxidation method.

The Steam Methane Reform Method

About ninety five percent of hydrogen produced worldwide today is made using the steam methane reform method.  The high temperatures of the steam are used to make hydrogen from a source of methane- usually natural gas.  When using steam methane reforming the methane will react with the steam, to produce carbon monoxide, hydrogen and small levels of carbon dioxide.  It’s important to remember that when using steam reforming heat needs to be provided in order for the process to work.

In the production of hydrogen gas method known as the water gas shift reaction the steam and carbon monoxide use a catalyst which produces more hydrogen and carbon dioxide; this is very useful in the production of hydrogen gas.  The final step is referred to as pressure swing absorption.  In this process carbon dioxide and supplementary impurities are detached from the stream leaving pretty much pure hydrogen.  This process is also regularly used to get hydrogen from other elements such as propane, ethanol, and even gasoline.

Partial Oxidation

When using partial oxidation in the production of hydrogen gas the hydrocarbons and methane in natural gas react with a very restricted level of oxygen- this isn’t enough to oxidize the hydrocarbons completely and turn them into water and carbon dioxide.  The reaction products will usually contain mainly carbon monoxide, hydrogen and sometimes nitrogen as well as a fairly small amount of carbon dioxide and a few other compounds.  This means that in a water gas shift reaction the water reacts with carbon monoxide to create carbon dioxide and more hydrogen.

Partial oxidation is a process that exudes heat.  This is usually much quicker than the steam reform method and uses a much smaller vessel reactor.  This process will initially make less pure hydrogen for every input fuel unit than can obtained by steam reforming the same fuel.

Other Production of Hydrogen Gas Forms

There are other forms of production of hydrogen gas that are being researched; there are many reasons for this.  With people starting to understand the importance of protecting the environment and trying to do things that are more eco friendly, hydrogen being used to power cars is something more and more people are looking into.  This means that should this take off and people start to do this in mass amounts we will need mass amounts of hydrogen at our access.

We are always looking for ways to increase the production of hydrogen gas without having to spend more money, and we are always looking for ways to produce it using less money.  The key to remember is that even if the cost of production were to not go down it’s still more cost effective to use hydrogen gas because you can get so much more out of it than gasoline.


Production of Hydrogen Gas