Hydrogen production from nuclear energy has attracted considerable interest as a clean energy solution to address the challenges of climate change and environmental sustainability. With respect to the large-scale and economical production of hydrogen using nuclear energy, the thermochemical water-splitting iodine-sulfur (IS) process is a promising method. The IS process uses sulfur and iodine compounds to decompose water into its elemental constituents, hydrogen and oxygen, by using three coupled chemical reactions: the Bunsen reaction; sulfuric acid decomposition; and hydrogen iodide (HI) decomposition. The decomposition of HI is the efficiency-determining step of the process. In this work, a membrane reactor with a silica membrane closed on one end was designed, and its potential for hydrogen production from HI decomposition was explored. In the reactor-module design, only one end of the membrane tube was fixed, while the closed-end of the tube was freely suspended to avoid thermal expansion effects. The closed-end silica membranes were prepared for the first time by a counter-diffusion chemical vapor deposition of hexyltrimethoxysilane. In application, HI conversion of greater than 0.60 was achieved at a decomposition temperature of 400 °C, which is three times greater than the equilibrium conversion (0.20). Thus, the membrane reactor with closed-end silica membrane was shown to produce a successful equilibrium shift in the production of hydrogen via HI decomposition in the thermochemical IS process.
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