High temperatures have been used to dissociate water, but in many cases, the oxygen and hydrogen recombine when temperatures drop. A new device magnetically separates hydrogen from oxygen at elevated temperatures. Steam enters a reaction chamber, heats to over 150 °C in a focused solar beam, and dissociates into hydrogen and oxygen. The ionic gases then pass through a magnetic field, where they experience opposing forces and can be drawn off individually. Once the ions are diverged, they are separated by a physical barrier. The temperature then rapidly decreases, causing the separated ions to recombine into H2 and O2.
The Thermal Magnetic Ion Separator (TherMIS™) device uses little electricity and requires no catalysts. An advanced prototype has been constructed that is scaled to the needs of a fuel-cell-powered, single-family dwelling. It uses a 3-m parabolic solar collector.