Producing Hydrogen and Power Using Chemical Looping Combustion and Water-Gas Shift

A cycle capable of generating both hydrogen and power with “inherent” carbon capture is proposed and evaluated. The cycle uses chemical looping combustion to perform the primary energy release from a hydrocarbon, producing an exhaust of CO. This CO is mixed with steam and converted to H2 and CO2 using the water-gas shift reaction (WGSR). Chemical looping uses two reactions with a recirculating oxygen carrier to oxidize hydrocarbons. The resulting oxidation and reduction stages are preformed in separate reactors—the oxidizer and reducer, respectively, and this partitioning facilitates CO2 capture. In addition, by careful selection of the oxygen carrier, the equilibrium temperature of both redox reactions can be reduced to values below the current industry standard metallurgical limit for gas turbines. This means that the irreversibility associated with the combustion process can be reduced significantly, leading to a system of enhanced overall efficiency. The choice of oxygen carrier also affects the ratio of CO versus CO2 in the reducer’s flue gas, with some metal oxide reduction reactions generating almost pure CO. This last feature is desirable if the maximum H2 production is to be achieved using the WGSR reaction. Process flow diagrams of one possible embodiment using a zinc based oxygen carrier are presented. To generate power, the chemical looping system is operated as part of a gas turbine cycle, combined with a bottoming steam cycle to maximize efficiency. The WGSR supplies heat to the bottoming steam cycle, and also helps to raise the steam necessary to complete the reaction. A mass and energy balance of the chemical looping system, the WGSR reactor, steam bottoming cycle, and balance of plant is presented and discussed. The results of this analysis show that the overall efficiency of the complete cycle is dependent on the operating pressure in the oxidizer, and under optimum conditions exceeds 75%.