Scientists develop an energy-efficient method for hydrogen production with less carbon footprint

Hydrogen can store and deliver usable energy, but it doesn’t typically exist by itself in nature and must be produced from compounds that contain it. And on Similar lines, Scientists at the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI) have developed an energy-efficient method for hydrogen production with less carbon footprint.

The world is searching for alternative fuels that can help humankind fight climate change. Among the sustainable fuels, Hydrogen has great potential to cater world’s ever-expanding need for fuel. Hydrogen is the simplest element on earth—it consists of only one proton and one electron—and it is an energy carrier.

An energy-efficient method

Scientists from ARCI have developed a method to produce hydrogen with high purity (99.99%) from a methanol-water mixture at ambient pressure and temperature that uses only one-third of the electrical energy required in water electrolysis.

With near-zero or zero end-use emissions and continually replenished fossil fuel resources, hydrogen can be an ideal sustainable energy carrier and would play an immense role in the near future.

Scientists at the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI) have developed a method that combines both the processes of electrolysis and reformation to produce hydrogen from methanol-water mixture by electrochemical methanol reformation (ECMR) at ambient pressure and temperature. The main advantage of this process is that the electrical energy needed to produce hydrogen is 1/3rd of water electrolysis (Practical water electrolysis requires 55-65 kWh/kg of hydrogen). This technology has been patented by ARCI (Indian Patent 338862/2020 and 369206/2021).

Hydrogen is gaining much attention because of its energy value of 40 kWh/kg. It is far ahead if we compare it to chemical fuels like gasoline, diesel, liquid petroleum gas (12-14 kWh/kg). Water contains the most hydrogen. The element is also present in natural gas, petroleum, and biomass, and they can form the source for the generation of hydrogen.

Some of the common methods for the production of hydrogen are Water electrolysis and the reformation of hydrocarbon like methane. The nation is doing its best effort to adopt clean fuels. The adoption of green hydrogen from renewable energy, integrated water electrolysis process to generate energy would bring significant benefits in fighting climate change.

The Process

In the ECMR process, hydrogen can be produced at a lower temperature (25-60oC) and pressure, unlike chemical reformation. This process uses a polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM).

The ARCI team is working on this technology and has developed an electrolysis unit of up to 5.0 kg/day capacity to produce hydrogen. The corresponding energy requirement for the electrolyser stack is around 17 kWhr/kg. The hydrogen thus produced by ARCI is highly pure (99.99%) and can be directly used in PEM fuel cells to generate power of about 11-13 kW.

The core components of the PEM-based ECMR electrolyser stack were fabricated indigenously and integrated with other components in the system. The electrolyser stack was fabricated using exfoliated graphite material as a reactant flow field plate. The use of carbon materials as bipolar plates has been one of the significant achievements in replacing the titanium plates, which is otherwise normally used in electrolyser unit assembly, offering a conservative cost-benefit.

ARCI team has developed the indigenous process for fabricating the core components like Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA), bipolar plates, and several process equipment. This method will significantly reduce the hydrogen cost compared to the water electrolysis method and can be easily integrated with renewable energy sources. ARCI is working with industry partners for integration with renewable energy sources like PV.


Tags: ARCI, Carbon Footprint, Hydrogen
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