It is no secret that the "hydrogen economy," as proposed, requires very large amounts of hydrogen if it will ever come to reality. One reason proponents of hydrogen as fuel wish to pursue their ideas is because hydrogen is in no short supply, being that it is a part of water, helping to make it the most abundant chemical element in the universe. However, it is rather expensive to separate the hydrogen from the water, and right now it's more attractive to extract it from natural gas.
The Ohio State University was just chosen out of twenty applicants to receive an award of $1.6 million to research and develop a method of capturing hydrogen using coal. Their process would separate hydrogen, carbon dioxide and chlorides, as well as sulfur from coal made into a synthetic gas, and then into pure hydrogen via a process known as chemical looping.
According to this article, "Once the coal has been transformed, the syngas is then put through a reactor where it encounters steam. Fan said at a certain temperature and pressure a reaction will turn the syngas into hydrogen, without using any catalyst."
"It is a very efficient, economical and technology-viable way to generate hydrogen," according to Dan Ciccero, technology manager for hydrogen and syngas for the National Energy Technology Laboratory, a branch of the Department of Energy.
A single stage chemical looping reactor will be built at the University to make this research possible.
[Source: The Lantern]