skip to main content

Title: Advanced Electrochemical Technologies for Hydrogen Production by Alternative Thermochemical Cycles

Hydrogen fuel is a potentially major solution to the problem of climate change, as well as addressing urban air pollution issues. But a key future challenge for hydrogen as a clean energy carrier is a sustainable, low-cost method of producing it in large capacities. Most of the world's hydrogen is currently derived from fossil fuels through some type of reforming processes. Nuclear hydrogen production is an emerging and promising alternative to the reforming processes for carbon-free hydrogen production in the future. This report presents the main results of a research program carried out by a NERI Consortium, which consisted of Penn State University (PSU) (lead), University of South Carolina (USC), Tulane University (TU), and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). Thermochemical water decomposition is an emerging technology for large-scale production of hydrogen. Typically using two or more intermediate compounds, a sequence of chemical and physical processes split water into hydrogen and oxygen, without releasing any pollutants externally to the atmosphere. These intermediate compounds are recycled internally within a closed loop. While previous studies have identified over 200 possible thermochemical cycles, only a few have progressed beyond theoretical calculations to working experimental demonstrations that establish scientific and practical feasibility of the thermochemical processes.more » The Cu-Cl cycle has a significant advantage over other cycles due to lower temperature requirements – around 530 °C and below. As a result, it can be eventually linked with the Generation IV thermal power stations. Advantages of the Cu-Cl cycle over others include lower operating temperatures, ability to utilize low-grade waste heat to improve energy efficiency, and potentially lower cost materials. Another significant advantage is a relatively low voltage required for the electrochemical step (thus low electricity input). Other advantages include common chemical agents and reactions going to completion without side reactions, and lower demands on materials of construction. Three university research groups from PSU, USC, and TU as well as a group from ANL have been collaborating on the development of enabling technologies for the Cu-Cl cycle, including experimental work on the Cu-Cl cycle reactions, modeling and simulation, and particularly electrochemical reaction for hydrogen production using a CuCl electrolyzer. The Consortium research was distributed over the participants and organized in the following tasks: (1) Development of CuCl electrolyzer (PSU), (2) Thermodynamic modeling of anolyte solution (PSU), (3) Proton conductive membranes for CuCl electrolysis (PSU), (4) Development of an analytical method for online analysis of copper compounds in highly concentrated aqueous solutions (USC), (5) Electrodialysis as a means for separation and purification of the streams exiting the electrolyzer in the Cu-Cl cycle (USC), (6) Development of nanostructured electrocatalysts for the Cu-Cl electrolysis (USC), (7) Cu-Cl electrolyzer modeling (USC), (8) Aspen Plus modeling of the Cu-Cl thermochemical cycle (TU), (9) International coordination of research on the development of the Cu-Cl thermochemical cycle (ANL). The results obtained in the project clearly demonstrate that the Cu-Cl alternative thermochemical cycle is a promising and viable technology to produce hydrogen efficiently.« less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1001054
Report Number(s):
DOEID14886
TRN: US201116%%980
DOE Contract Number:
FG07-07ID14886
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
The Pennsylvania State University
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and Infrastructure Technologies Program (EE-2H)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
08 HYDROGEN; AIR POLLUTION; AQUEOUS SOLUTIONS; CLIMATIC CHANGE; COPPER COMPOUNDS; ELECTRICITY; ELECTROCATALYSTS; ELECTRODIALYSIS; ELECTROLYSIS; ENERGY EFFICIENCY; FOSSIL FUELS; HYDROGEN; HYDROGEN FUELS; HYDROGEN PRODUCTION; MEMBRANES; OXYGEN; POLLUTANTS; PURIFICATION; RESEARCH PROGRAMS; THERMOCHEMICAL PROCESSES; THERMODYNAMICS; WASTE HEAT Cu-Cl thermochemical cycle, hydrogen production, CuCl electrolysis, electrodialysis, nanostructured catalysts, thermodynamic modeling