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Hydrogen Production Fact Sheet

Apr 6, 2016

Hydrogen, a versatile and abundant element, can be produced from a variety of domestic resources using methods such as natural gas reforming, electrolysis, solar-driven reactions, and biological processes. The U.S. Department of Energy is actively supporting research to develop economical and environmentally-friendly hydrogen production technologies to meet future energy needs.

Hydrogen Production Fact Sheet

  • Introduction: Hydrogen, the simplest and most abundant element in the universe, can be produced from diverse domestic resources. Although hydrogen is in its gaseous state at atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature, it can be stored as a gas, liquid, or solid for energy or fuel applications.

  • Methods of Hydrogen Production:

    1. Natural Gas Reforming/Gasification: Synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and a small amount of carbon dioxide, is created by reacting natural gas with high-temperature steam. The carbon monoxide is reacted with water to produce additional hydrogen.

    2. Electrolysis: An electric current splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. If the electricity is produced from renewable sources, this method can be near-zero emission.

    3. Solar Hydrogen Production: Researchers are working on methods to produce hydrogen using sunlight. Techniques include photobiological, photoelectrochemical, and solar thermochemical.

    4. Biological Processes: Some algae and bacteria produce hydrogen under certain conditions using sunlight-driven reactions.

    5. Fermentation: Biomass is converted into sugar-rich feedstocks that can be fermented to produce hydrogen.

    6. Gasification: Biomass is converted into hydrogen-rich gas in a high-temperature chemical reaction with controlled amounts of steam and oxygen.

    7. High-Temperature Water Splitting: High temperatures generated by solar concentrators or nuclear reactors split water to produce hydrogen.

  • Hydrogen Purification: Hydrogen produced using the methods above often requires purification to remove contaminants. This can be achieved using various techniques like pressure swing adsorption or membrane separators.

  • Conclusion: The U.S. Department of Energy supports research and development of a wide range of technologies to produce hydrogen economically and in environmentally friendly ways. The goal is to ensure that hydrogen production can help meet the nation's energy needs in the future.

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