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On-site demonstration of an elevated temperature hydrogen clean-up unit for fuel cell applications

  • Shuang Li
  • Peixuan Hao
  • Xuancan Zhu
  • Yixiang ShiEmail author
  • Ningsheng Cai
  • Shigang LiEmail author
  • Hua Jiang


Hydrogen from coal-based syngas is usually purified by deep desulfurization and decarbonization scrubbing technologies. Such electricity consuming processes cost a large number of heat exchangers and compressors. In this study, a two-stage demonstration unit had been constructed and demonstrated to purify hydrogen (including useful nitrogen for ammonia synthesis) from on-site sideline shift gas mixture at Yangmei Fengxi ammonia plant. For the first stage, an 8-column hydrogen purification process by novel elevated temperature pressure swing adsorption (ET-PSA, operated at 180 to 220 °C) was developed and demonstrated to capture H2S and CO2 simultaneously by hydrophobic activated carbon (AC) to reduce the impurities compared to that of room temperature PSA. Working condition at elevated temperature was proved to be appropriate and stable for reversible H2S removal by AC. The second stage was a temperature swing adsorption for deep purification of CO to 0.2 ppm by commercial CuCl monolayer dispersed zeolites (PU-1 synthesized by Beijing Peking University Pioneer Technology Co., Ltd.). In order to examine the standard of trace impurities such CO and H2S in product H2, the purified H2 was offered to a 3 kW proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) stack to prove that all carbon and sulfur impurities met the demand not only for ammonia synthesis, but for PEMFC as well. Besides, two novel PSA steps: high pressure steam rinse and low pressure nitrogen purge were adopted to improve H2 recovery to above 93%. To demonstrate its stability, over 2500 h of operation had been carried out on the small-scale demonstration rigs by far.


Pressure swing adsorption Activated carbon Hydrogen purification On-site demonstration rig 



Activated carbon


Co-current blow down


Elevated temperature pressure swing adsorption


Layered double hydrotalcite


Pressure swing adsorption


Proton exchange membrane fuel cell


Temperature swing adsorption


Water gas shift



This research was financed and supported by the National Key Research Development Program of China (No. 2018YFC0810001), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51806120), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2017M610890), the Seed Fund of Shanxi Research Institute for Clean Energy, Tsinghua University, the Natural Science Foundation for Young Scientists of Shanxi Province (201801D221352) and Shanxi Province Science and Technology Major Projects (MH2015-06) from Shanxi Science and Technology Department of China.

Supplementary material

10450_2019_164_MOESM1_ESM.docx (476 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 476 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory for Thermal Science and Power Engineering of Ministry of Education, Department of Energy and Power EngineeringTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Shanxi Research Institute for Clean Energy, Tsinghua UniversityTaiyuanChina
  3. 3.Beijing Peking University Pioneer Technology Co., LtdBeijingChina

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