From: ENN
Published September 1, 2005 12:00 AM

Department of Energy Selects SRI International to Develop Low-Cost Hydrogen Generation System

MENLO PARK, California — SRI International, an independent nonprofit research and development organization, today announced that the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded an SRI-led team a four-year, $2.2 million contract to develop a prototype of a modular industrial system that uses steam electrolysis for low-cost generation of hydrogen.

SRI's proposed steam electrolysis system is expected to be much more energy-efficient than low-temperature electrolysis and conventional high-temperature electrolysis to extract hydrogen from water. The goal is to generate ultra pure hydrogen at a cost of $2 to $3 per gallon gasoline equivalent (gge, delivered). The current cost of hydrogen by electrolysis is more than $4 per gge (delivered) on average. SRI's modular system design will allow scaling up and customization to meet a variety of site-specific needs.

"SRI has a scientifically proven approach, expertise in industrial implementation, and a clear understanding of the technical issues related to prototype development," said Iouri Balachov, SRI senior research engineer and the project's principal investigator. "A modular, efficient hydrogen generation system will address some of the technological and economic constraints that are impeding advancement of a hydrogen-based economy."

Hydrogen could serve as a globally sustainable and renewable energy source. It has many potential uses, including powering non-polluting vehicles, heating homes and offices, and fueling aircraft.

As fuel, hydrogen must be produced by either splitting water or by extracting it from hydrocarbons. The most widely used method of splitting water is electrolysis, in which an electric current reduces water to hydrogen and oxygen. With steam electrolysis, some of the energy needed to split the water is added as heat, instead of electricity, which makes the process more energy-efficient.

SRI has overall responsibility for the project team's technical and financial performance, and is responsible for the design of the experimental system, conduct of experiments, numerical analysis and other technical elements.

SRI Consulting Business Intelligence (SRIC-BI), an SRI spin-off, will perform an economic analysis of the steam electrolysis system. SRI and SRIC-BI will provide recommendations and technical documentation for field deployment.

About SRI International: Silicon Valley-based SRI International ( is an independent research and technology development organization. Founded as Stanford Research Institute in 1946, the nonprofit research institute performs client-sponsored research and development for government agencies, commercial businesses and private foundations. In addition to conducting contract R&D, SRI licenses its technologies, forms strategic partnerships and creates spin-off companies.

Source: Business Wire, SRI International

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