RTI International is to explore ways of producing hydrogen on a large scale from coal and coal-biomass mixtures, under a $1.2m contract with the US Department of Energy.

RTI is an international research and technology development firm and will partner with the Sud-Chemie company on the project - a highly-innovative, listed, specialty chemicals company headquartered in Munich.

The hydrogen fuel contract is part of a hydrogen fuel initiative that the DOE launched in 2003.

“Coal-biomass-to-liquid technologies present a great opportunity for the production of transportation fuels from domestic energy sources, thereby reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” explained Jason Trembly, a Research Chemical Engineer at RTI who is the project’s principal investigator.

“Our project will identify contaminants that must be removed from coal/biomass-derived synthesis gas for efficient production of liquid transportation fuels.”

Synthesis gas is produced from gasification of a coal/biomass mixture. The project will focus on contaminants including hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, arsine, hydrogen selenide and mercury.