Publication Detail

Hydrogen Production Plants: Emissions and Thermal Efficiency Analysis


Research Report

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Suggested Citation:
Contadini, José F., Claudia V. Diniz, Daniel Sperling, Robert M. Moore (2000) Hydrogen Production Plants: Emissions and Thermal Efficiency Analysis. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-00-16

Presented at the Second International Symposium on Technological and Environmental Topics in Transports, Milan, Italy, October 26 - 27, 2000

The rapid development of fuel cell technologies and their applications in fuel cells vehicles (FCVs) may soon require the establishment of new hydrogen production plants since hydrogen has been considered as the future fuel for transportation by many experts. Air quality and climate change have been the principal motivation for developing these new technologies, so the emissions and energy requirement at the fuel production plant become crucial in a life cycle analysis type for the FCVs.

A centralized plant based upon the natural gas (NG) steam reformation process has been suggested as the cheapest way to produce hydrogen. This paper presents the results of two months of data collection on an existing hydrogen plant with 35 mtpd (metric tons per day) capacity. The data collection was accomplished over the winter and summer seasons and involved consumption of NG, production of hydrogen and steam, levels of several pollutant emissions, etc. The paper also presents the results of discussions with an international expert advisory group about the process efficiency, equipment breakdown and emission rates of different plant size capacities, different emission control devices and steam production options for the year 2010. The discussion involved the existing plant and literature data and was done over multiple rounds. The anonymity of the comments was preserved. Uncertainty of future technology attributes and system designs, and also the unreliability of some data, were dealt by using probabilistic function calculations through Monte Carlo simulation technique. This effort is part of the Fuel Upstream Energy and Emissions Model (FUEEM) being developed as a complement to the larger fuel cell vehicle model project underway at UCDavis.