At Tata Steel in India (a branch of Tata Motors), they have developed a high-temperature cracking method of steam to create hydrogen. In the process of manufacturing steel, red hot slag is created.
With the new process, water is sprayed over the red hot slag-steel achieving temperatures of around 2,900 F. At high temperatures such as this water molecules are loosely bonded and separating the atoms into hydrogen and oxygen is much easier than at room temperature.
In the past, I’ve talked about nuclear reactors being developed that would engage in high temperature cracking of water. Tata Steel has decided to use the heat that they already generate in the manufacturing process towards this end.
The upside for Tata Steel is that the process yields around 70-percent pure hydrogen and they can use this to power their plant. Currently, Tata Steel uses mainly oil for power, but this will be replaced by hydrogen power once their high temperature water splitting process goes online.
Of course, if the price of hydrogen were go up to a point of being a valuable commodity such as for the automobile industry, Tata Steel could also sell the H2 on the open market. Or if Tata Motors wanted to develop a hydrogen car for India, being both vehicle manufacturer and hydrogen fuel manufacturer and distributor may also be an attractive option.
No matter what is around the corner, however, it’s good to see from an environmental standpoint companies such as Tata Steel putting their waste heat to good use, cutting down on their own oil consumption and replacing it with clean, green hydrogen instead.