The Sulfur-Iodine Cycle: Process Analysis and Design Using Comprehensive Phase Equilibrium Measurements and Modeling

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Of the 100+ thermochemical hydrogen cycles that have been proposed, the Sulfur-Iodine (S-I) Cycle is a primary target of international interest for the centralized production of hydrogen from nuclear power. However, the cycle involves complex and highly nonideal phase behavior at extreme conditions that is only beginning to be understood and modeled for process simulation. The consequence is that current designs and efficiency projections have large uncertainties, as they are based on incomplete data that must be extrapolated from property models. This situation prevents reliable assessment of the potential viability of the system and, even more, a basis for efficient ... continued below

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Thies, Mark C.; O'Connell, J. P. & Gorensek, Maximilian B. January 10, 2010.

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Of the 100+ thermochemical hydrogen cycles that have been proposed, the Sulfur-Iodine (S-I) Cycle is a primary target of international interest for the centralized production of hydrogen from nuclear power. However, the cycle involves complex and highly nonideal phase behavior at extreme conditions that is only beginning to be understood and modeled for process simulation. The consequence is that current designs and efficiency projections have large uncertainties, as they are based on incomplete data that must be extrapolated from property models. This situation prevents reliable assessment of the potential viability of the system and, even more, a basis for efficient process design. The goal of this NERI award (05-006) was to generate phase-equilibrium data, property models, and comprehensive process simulations so that an accurate evaluation of the S-I Cycle could be made. Our focus was on Section III of the Cycle, where the hydrogen is produced by decomposition of hydroiodic acid (HI) in the presence of water and iodine (I2) in a reactive distillation (RD) column. The results of this project were to be transferred to the nuclear hydrogen community in the form of reliable flowsheet models for the S-I process. Many of the project objectives were achieved. At Clemson University, a unique, tantalum-based, phase-equilibrium apparatus incorporating a view cell was designed and constructed for measuring fluid-phase equilibria for mixtures of iodine, HI, and water (known as HIx) at temperatures to 350 °C and pressures to 100 bar. Such measurements were of particular interest for developing a working understanding of the expected operation of the RD column in Section III. The view cell allowed for the IR observation and discernment of vapor-liquid (VL), liquid-liquid, and liquid-liquid-vapor (LLVE) equilibria for HIx systems. For the I2-H2O system, liquid-liquid equilibrium (LLE) was discovered to exist at temperatures up to 310-315 °C, in contrast to the models and predictions of earlier workers. For the I2-HI-H2O ternary, LLE and LLVE were all observed for the first time at temperatures of 160 and 200 °C. Three LLE tie-lines were measured at 160 °C, and preliminary indications are that the underlying phase behavior could result in further improvements in the performance of the S-I Cycle. Unfortunately, these new results were obtained too late in the project to be incorporated into the modeling and simulation work described below. At the University of Virginia, a uniquely complete and reliable model was developed for the thermodynamic properties of HIx, covering the range of conditions expected for the separation of product hydrogen and recycled iodine in the RD column located in Section III. The model was validated with all available property spectroscopy data. The results provide major advances over prior understanding of the chemical speciation involved. The model was implemented in process simulation studies of the S-I Cycle, which showed improvement in energy efficiency to 42%, as well as significantly smaller capital requirements due to lower pressure operation and much smaller equipment sizes. The result is that the S-I Cycle may be much more economically feasible than was previously thought. If both the experimental and modeling work described above were to be continued to ultimate process optimization, both the American public and the global community would benefit from this alternative energy source that does not produce carbon emissions.

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  • Report No.: FC07-05ID14677_FnlRpt
  • Grant Number: FC07-05ID14677
  • DOI: 10.2172/969923 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 969923
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc928874

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  • January 10, 2010

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  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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Thies, Mark C.; O'Connell, J. P. & Gorensek, Maximilian B. The Sulfur-Iodine Cycle: Process Analysis and Design Using Comprehensive Phase Equilibrium Measurements and Modeling, report, January 10, 2010; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc928874/: accessed October 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.