Cocoa, Florida [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] While the phrase “Hydrogen Economy” is heard often these days and is widely anticipated by people who hope to see our world function using renewable energy resources, all agree that a lot of complex preparatory work still needs to be done.One of the more interesting hydrogen projects going on now deals with a unique way to produce hydrogen. Dr. Ali Raissi and Karthikayan Ramasamy with the Florida Solar Energy Center are developing a process to produce hydrogen based on reformation of used automotive lubricating oils. Used lube oil – often considered just another substance to be disposed of – can be valuable when recycled as a re-refined lubricant or as an energy source. Each year, Floridians generate more than more than 45 million gallons of used lubricating oils. Typically, used lubricating oil is delivered at a cost of 10 cents per gallon, making it a potentially inexpensive source for local production of hydrogen. Since lube oil contains a complex mixture of higher hydrocarbons, it is very difficult to break it down using thermal energy alone. At FSEC, Raissi and Ramasamy have built a thermocatalytic reactor that uses supercritical water to accomplish reformation of lube oils. Water becomes a supercritical fluid at temperature above 374.2°C and pressure over 22.1 MPa. In the Supercritical region, densities are a fraction of that of normal liquid water, while solubility behavior is closer to that of high-pressure steam. To date, FSEC researchers have operated this system successfully and have demonstrated that hydrogen can be produced by using the supercritical water reformation method. To view a video showing the laboratory apparatus and an animation of the FSEC process for producing hydrogen from used lube oil, click on the following link.