TitleHydrogen production via a sulfur-sulfur thermochemical water-splitting cycle
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsAuYeung, NJ
UniversityOregon State University
CityCorvallis, Or.
Thesis TypeDissertation

4I₂(l)+4SO₂(l)+8H₂O(l)↔4H₂SO₄(l)+ 8HI(l)

3H₂SO₄(g)↔ 3H₂O(g)+3SO₂(g)+1½O₂(g)

The critical step in the Sulfur-Sulfur cycle is the steam reformation of H₂S. This highly endothermic step is shown to successfully occur at temperatures in excess of 800˚C in the presence of a molybdenum catalyst. A parametric study varying the H₂O:H₂S ratio, temperature, and residence time in a simple tubular quartz reactor was carried out and Arrhenius parameters were estimated. All reactive steps of the Sulfur-Sulfur cycle have been either demonstrated previously or demonstrated in this work. A theoretical heat-to-hydrogen thermal efficiency is estimated to be 55% at a hot temperature of 1100 K and 59% at 2000 K. As a highly efficient, all-fluid based thermochemical cycle, the Sulfur-Sulfur cycle has great potential for feasible process implementation for the transformation of high quality heat to chemical energy.

8HI(l)+H₂SO₄(l)↔ H₂S(g)+4H₂O(l)+4I₂(l)

H₂S(g)+2H₂O(g)↔ SO₂(g)+3H₂(g)

Thermochemical water splitting cycles have been conceptualized and researched for over half a century, yet to this day none are commercially viable. The heavily studied Sulfur-Iodine cycle has been stalled in the early development stage due to a difficult HI-H₂O separation step and material compatibility issues. In an effort to avoid the azeotropic HI-H₂O mixture, an imidazolium-based ionic liquid was used as a reaction medium instead of water. Ionic liquids were selected based on their high solubility for SO₂, I₂, and tunable miscibility with water. The initial low temperature step of the Sulfur-Iodine cycle was successfully carried out in ionic liquid reaction medium. Kinetics of the reaction were investigated by I₂ colorimetry. The reaction also evolved H₂S gas, which led to the conceptual idea of a new Sulfur-Sulfur thermochemical cycle, shown below: