Solar power + methane = hydrogen

March 23, 2006
The first solar hydrogenproduction station using methane is coming to a landfill in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Artist's rendering of Solar Hydrogen Production Station to be built in Regina, Saskatchewan, at the Fleet Street Landfill. Each solar array measures 13 13 m (40 40 ft) and can generate 40,000 kg of hydrogen annually for a total of 1.2 million kg of hydrogen per year.

Concentrated sunlight from the mirror array is focused to 5,000 times the intensity of the sun. This intense heat operates the thermochemical hydrogen-production process. Energy consumed by the thermochemical process regulates the temperature to 850°C (1,562°F). Without the removal of heat by the thermochemical process, temperatures could exceed 3,000°C (5,432°F).

Solar Hydrogen Energy Corp. (Shec), Saskatoon, Giffels Associates Limited (Ingenium), and Clean 16 Environmental Technologies are working with the University of Toronto to convert methane, an environmentally damaging greenhouse gas expelled from the city's Fleet Street landfill, to hydrogen.

"Station No.1 will produce 1.2 million kg of hydrogen per year and prevent 81.1 kt of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from entering the atmosphere annually," says Tom Beck, Shec Labs president and CEO. The plant should be completely operational by 2008. Today the most common method of hydrogen production is steam reformation of natural gas, which releases greenhouse gases. Shec Station No. 1 will eliminate harmful greenhouse gases and produce clean, high-purity-hydrogen. Many see hydrogen as the fuel of the future. In a fuel cell, hydrogen combines with oxygen from the air to create electricity. The only by-product is water.

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