The iron/iron-oxide looping cycle has the potential to produce high purity hydrogen from coal or natural gas without the need for gas phase separation: Hydrogen is produced from steam oxidation of iron or Wustite yielding primarily Magnetite; Magnetite is then reduced back to iron/Wustite using syngas (CO+H2). A system model has been developed to identify favorable operation conditions and process configurations. Process configurations for three distinct temperature ranges, (i) 500–950 K, (ii) 950–1100 K, and (iii) 1100–1200 K have been developed. The energy content of high temperature syngas from conventional coal gasifiers is sufficient to drive the looping process throughout the temperature range considered. Temperatures around 1000 K are advantageous for both the hydrogen production step and the iron oxide reduction step. Simulations of a large number of subsequent cycles indicate that quasi-steady operation is reached after approximately 5 cycles. Comparison of simulations and experiments indicate that the process is currently limited by chemical kinetics at lower temperatures. Therefore, product recirculation should be used for a scaled-up process to increase reactant residence times while maintaining sufficient fluidization velocity.

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