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Hydrogen Production


Development of Hydrogen Production Technology Based on Direct Contact of Water, Gaseous Hydrocarbons and Their Mixtures with Liquid Pb and Pb-Bi

Tech Area / Field

  • NNE-FCN/Fuel Conversion/Non-Nuclear Energy

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
FEI (IPPE), Russia, Kaluga reg., Obninsk


  • TNO Science and Industry, The Netherlands, Delft\nTokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, Tokyo\nLos Alamos National Laboratory, USA, NM, Los-Alamos\nENEA / Dipartimento Fusione, Tecnologie e Presido Nucleare, Italy, Brasimone\nNational Research Council Canada / Institute of Chemical Progress and Environmental Technology, Canada, ON, Ottawa

Project summary

The objective of this Project is justification and demonstration of the new energy-saving safe technology of low-cost hydrogen production based on direct mixing of water and/or gaseous hydrocarbons with Pb or Pb-Bi liquid metal coolants. The following problems will be solved within the framework of the Project: 1) Justification of the new technology of hydrogen production; 2) Justification of basic layout of demonstration facility for realization of the new technology of hydrogen-containing media conversion and the main technical requirements to this facility; 3) Construction of facility and carrying out demonstration tests of the new technology; 4) Taking measures aimed at the achievement of the goals of the Project.

Reorganization of industry from the standpoint of environment protection and power supply is the most important problem today. One of the trends of this reconstruction is wide use of hydrogen, which is intrinsically the only environmentally friendly energy carrier, i.e. transition to hydrogen-based power engineering. Currently, the main efforts are focused on the development and modification of the following hydrogen production methods: water decomposition, mainly by high-temperature electrolysis; conversion of hydrocarbons.

Methods of hydrogen production now in use have significant drawbacks. The cost of hydrogen produced by electrolysis is extremely high, technologies and equipment used in chemical or thermo-chemical cycles are intricate and there are lifetime and environmental limits imposed on conversion of hydrocarbon raw material. In the course of justification of technology of heavy liquid metal coolants (HLMC), i.e. Pb-Bi and Pb for nuclear power facilities, studies have been carried out during many years at the FSUE SSC RF – IPPE on the mechanism of the processes of HLMC interaction with various materials. Some data have been obtained showing the possibility of creation of highly effective, safe and relatively simple (in terms of applied equipment) technology of production of hydrogen based on direct mixing of HLMC with hydrogen-containing media (steam, natural gas etc.). There are good reasons to expect advantages of this technology because of the following factors: hydrogen-containing materials are heated up by their direct contact with HLMC; use of HLMC not only for the purpose of heat transfer, but also for the new processes of metal-gas chemical interaction, which have not been used earlier.

Potentially, there is a possibility for creation of hydrogen sources on the basis of the following processes: decomposition of steam, pyrolysis of hydrocarbons and oxidizing conversion of hydrocarbons (by steam and oxide). In all technologies, any available heat source can be used for HLMC heating. Designs of facilities used for implementation of all above technologies are very simple and have low mass of steel; they can be shop-manufactured in series. All above considerations, as well as safety, simplicity and small size of facility, absence of expensive expendables, practically zero waste amount, environmental friendliness and long lifetime of the new equipment, proper heat balance and effectiveness of chemical reactions form the ground for the development of hydrogen production technology on the basis of direct contact of hydrogen-containing media with liquid Pb or Pb-Bi.

The list of advanced processes based on the direct contact between hydrogen-containing media and HLMC, their characteristics and implementation conditions are determined on the basis of the results of Task 1. In the course of fulfillment of Task 2, flow diagram, main design features and operating conditions of facility for demonstration of the new technology are determined. Designing, construction and putting into operation of facility for implementation of the new technology, and demonstration of its capabilities and advantages are carried out within the framework of Task 3.

The basis for successful achievement of the goals of the Project is large experience gained at the FSUE SSC RF – IPPE for over 35-year period of development and successful operation of liquid metal facilities and experimental rigs. Qualification of FSUE SSC RF – IPPE specialists participating in the Project is rather high: among scientists there are 4 Doctors of Technology (including two Professors) and 8 Candidates of Technology and Physics and Mathematics; and many engineers involved in the work on the Project have high expertise. These specialists have patents, publications and presentations on the topics related to monitoring and control of impurities content in liquid metals (lead and lead-bismuth), water and gases. Researchers team have at their disposal experimental equipment for studying HLMC interaction with hydrogen-containing media and tools for manufacturing devices and equipment of various purpose and complexity.

Expected results of the Project are as follows: 1) thermodynamic analysis of oxidation-reduction processes that may occur as a result of interaction of liquid Pb and Pb-Bi with water, steam and gaseous hydrocarbons; 2) comparison of effectiveness and conditions of realization of the above processes and those used in traditional hydrogen production technologies; 3) choice of the advanced processes for use in the new technology; 4) experimental studies of chosen processes; 5) final choice of processes to be used in the new technology and their conditions, justification of technology as a whole and proposals on possible facility designs for its implementation; 6) justification of demonstration facility layout for implementation of the new technology of conversion of hydrogen-containing media and the main technical requirements to this technology; 7) creation of demonstration facility, evident demonstration of the possibility of hydrogen production using new technology and proving its advantages.

Applied significance of proposed Project is in practical use of the results of development of production of hydrogen as market product, which is promising, environmentally friendly fuel for the future power engineering.

Proposed Project fully meets the main goals and tasks of the ISTC, since this Project:

provides the opportunity for scientists and specialists in the Russia Federation involved in weapons area of industry (in particular, those who had knowledge and skills in weapons of mass annihilation and missile delivery systems) to change for the peaceful activity;

supports basic and applied research and development of technologies for peaceful purposes aimed finally to the scientific and technological progress in the area of creation of new materials and environment control;

facilitates solution of national and international engineering problems (additional to those mentioned above).

Role of foreign Collaborators in the implementation of the Project will be as follows: direct participation (or participation in the form of consultations) in the statement of theoretical and experimental problems; information exchange in the course of implementation of the Project; making comments to technical reports submitted by the Project participants; participation in technical inspection of activity on the Project; holding joint workshops; evaluation of methods and technologies developed in the course of implementation of the Project; discussion on the ways of application of the Project results to the real production of micro systems. Joint activity with the foreign collaborators on this Project will undoubtedly facilitate integration of the Russian scientists in the world scientific association.

Time required for the work fulfillment on this Project is 30 months.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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