At the present time, we are alarmed by depletion of fossil energy and effects on global environment such as acid rain and global warming, because our lives depend still heavily on fossil energy. So, it is universally recognized that hydrogen is one of the best energy media and its demand will be increased greatly in the near future. In Japan, the Basic Plan for Energy Supply and Demand based on the Basic Law on Energy Policy Making was decided upon by the Cabinet on 6 October, 2003. In the plan, efforts for hydrogen energy utilization were expressed as follows; hydrogen is a clean energy carrier without carbon dioxide (CO2) emission, and commercialization of hydrogen production system using nuclear, solar and biomass, not fossil fuels, is desired. However, it is necessary to develop suitable technology to produce hydrogen without CO2 emission from a view point of global environmental protection, since little hydrogen exists naturally. Hydrogen production from water using nuclear energy, especially the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR), is one of the most attractive solutions for the environmental issue, because HTGR hydrogen production by water splitting methods such as a thermochemical iodine-sulfur (IS) process has a high possibility to produce hydrogen effectively and economically. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) has been conducting the HTTR (High-Temperature Engineering Test Reactor) project from the view to establishing technology base on HTGR and also on the IS process. In the IS process, raw material, water, is to be reacted with iodine (I2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) to produce hydrogen iodide (HI) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4), the so-called Bunsen reaction, which are then decomposed endothermically to produce hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2), respectively. Iodine and sulfur dioxide produced in the decomposition reactions can be used again as the reactants in the Bunsen reaction. In JAEA, continuous hydrogen production was demonstrated with the hydrogen production rate of about 30 NL/hr for one week using a bench-scale test apparatus made of glass. Based on the test results and know-how obtained through the bench-scale tests, a pilot test plant that can produce hydrogen of about 30 Nm3/hr is being designed. The test plant will be fabricated with industrial materials such as glass coated steel, SiC ceramics etc, and operated under high pressure condition up to 2 MPa. The test plant will consist of a IS process plant and a helium gas (He) circulation facility (He loop). The He loop can simulate HTTR operation conditions, which consists of a 400 kW-electric heater for He hating, a He circulator and a steam generator working as a He cooler. In parallel to the design study, key components of the IS process such as the sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and the sulfur trioxide (SO3) decomposers working under-high temperature corrosive environments have been designed and test-fabricated to confirm their fabricability. Also, other R&D’s are under way such as corrosion, processing of HIx solutions. This paper describes present status of these activities.

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