Making the case for hydrogen in a zero-carbon economy


Hydrogen Power
As the United States races to achieve its goal of zero-carbon electricity generation by 2035, energy providers are swiftly ramping up renewable resources such as solar and wind. But because these technologies churn out electrons only when the sun shines and the wind blows, they need backup from other energy sources, especially during seasons of high electric demand. Currently, plants burning fossil fuels, primarily natural gas, fill in the gaps.

“As we move to more and more renewable penetration, this intermittency will make a greater impact on the ,” says Emre Gençer, a research scientist at the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI). That’s because grid operators will increasingly resort to fossil-fuel-based “peaker”  that compensate for the intermittency of the variable renewable  (VRE) sources of sun and wind. “If we’re to achieve zero-carbon electricity, we must replace all greenhouse gas-emitting sources,” Gençer says.

Low- and zero-carbon alternatives to greenhouse-gas emitting peaker plants are in development, such as arrays of lithium-ion batteries and  power generation. But each of these evolving technologies comes with its own set of advantages and constraints, and it has proven difficult to frame the debate about these options in a way that’s useful for policymakers, investors, and utilities engaged in the clean energy transition.

Now, Gençer and Drake D. Hernandez SM ’21 have come up with a model that makes it possible to pin down the pros and cons of these peaker-plant alternatives with greater precision. Their hybrid technological and , based on a detailed inventory of California’s power system, was published online last month in Applied Energy. While their work focuses on the most cost-effective solutions for replacing peaker power plants, it also contains insights intended to contribute to the larger conversation about transforming energy systems.

“Our study’s essential takeaway is that hydrogen-fired power generation can be the more economical option when compared to lithium-ion batteries—even today, when the costs of hydrogen production, transmission, and storage are very high,” says Hernandez, who worked on the study while a graduate research assistant for MITEI. Adds Gençer, “If there is a place for hydrogen in the cases we analyzed, that suggests there is a promising role for hydrogen to play in the energy transition.”

Adding up the costs

California serves as a stellar paradigm for a swiftly shifting power system. The state draws more than 20 percent of its electricity from solar and approximately 7 percent from wind, with more VRE coming online rapidly. This means its peaker plants already play a pivotal role, coming online each evening when the sun goes down or when events such as heat waves drive up electricity use for days at a time.

“We looked at all the peaker plants in California,” recounts Gençer. “We wanted to know the cost of electricity if we replaced them with hydrogen-fired turbines or with lithium-ion batteries.” The researchers used a core metric called the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) as a way of comparing the costs of different technologies to each other. LCOE measures the average total cost of building and operating a particular energy-generating asset per unit of total electricity generated over the hypothetical lifetime of that asset.

Selecting 2019 as their base study year, the team looked at the costs of running natural gas-fired peaker plants, which they defined as plants operating 15 percent of the year in response to gaps in intermittent renewable electricity. In addition, they determined the amount of carbon dioxide released by these plants and the expense of abating these emissions. Much of this information was publicly available.

Coming up with prices for replacing peaker plants with massive arrays of lithium-ion batteries was also relatively straightforward: “There are no technical limitations to lithium-ion, so you can build as many as you want; but they are super expensive in terms of their footprint for energy storage and the mining required to manufacture them,” says Gençer.

But then came the hard part: nailing down the costs of hydrogen-fired electricity generation. “The most difficult thing is finding cost assumptions for new technologies,” says Hernandez. “You can’t do this through a literature review, so we had many conversations with equipment manufacturers and plant operators.”

The team considered two different forms of hydrogen fuel to replace natural gas, one produced through electrolyzer facilities that convert water and electricity into hydrogen, and another that reforms natural gas, yielding hydrogen and carbon waste that can be captured to reduce emissions. They also ran the numbers on retrofitting natural gas plants to burn hydrogen as opposed to building entirely new facilities. Their model includes identification of likely locations throughout the state and expenses involved in constructing these facilities.

The researchers spent months compiling a giant dataset before setting out on the task of analysis. The results from their modeling were clear: “Hydrogen can be a more cost-effective alternative to lithium-ion batteries for peaking operations on a power grid,” says Hernandez. In addition, notes Gençer, “While certain technologies worked better in particular locations, we found that on average, reforming hydrogen rather than electrolytic hydrogen turned out to be the cheapest option for replacing peaker plants.”

making-the-case-for-hy

Credit: DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2021.117314

A tool for energy investors

When he began this project, Gençer admits he “wasn’t hopeful” about hydrogen replacing natural gas in peaker plants. “It was kind of shocking to see in our different scenarios that there was a place for hydrogen.” That’s because the overall price tag for converting a fossil-fuel based plant to one based on hydrogen is very high, and such conversions likely won’t take place until more sectors of the economy embrace hydrogen, whether as a fuel for transportation or for varied manufacturing and industrial purposes.

A nascent hydrogen production infrastructure does exist, mainly in the production of ammonia for fertilizer. But enormous investments will be necessary to expand this framework to meet grid-scale needs, driven by purposeful incentives. “With any of the climate solutions proposed today, we will need a carbon tax or carbon pricing; otherwise nobody will switch to new technologies,” says Gençer.

The researchers believe studies like theirs could help key energy stakeholders make better-informed decisions. To that end, they have integrated their analysis into SESAME, a life cycle and techno-economic assessment tool for a range of energy systems that was developed by MIT researchers. Users can leverage this sophisticated modeling environment to compare costs of energy storage and emissions from different technologies, for instance, or to determine whether it is cost-efficient to replace a -powered plant with one powered by hydrogen.

“As utilities, industry, and investors look to decarbonize and achieve zero-emissions targets, they have to weigh the costs of investing in low-carbon technologies today against the potential impacts of climate change moving forward,” says Hernandez, who is currently a senior associate in the energy practice at Charles River Associates. Hydrogen, he believes, will become increasingly cost-competitive as its production costs decline and markets expand.

A study group member of MITEI’s soon-to-be published Future of Storage study, Gençer knows that hydrogen alone will not usher in a zero-carbon future. But, he says, “Our research shows we need to seriously consider hydrogen in the energy transition, start thinking about key areas where hydrogen should be used, and start making the massive investments necessary.”


Explore further

Green hydrogen production from curtailed wind and solar power

New Nanoscale Material Harvests Hydrogen Fuel From the Sea – University of Central Florida


Researchers developed a long-lasting, stable nanoscale material for electrolysis.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) designed the world’s first nanoscale material capable of efficiently splitting seawater into oxygen and green hydrogen, which can be used as a fuel, a press release explains.

The development is another step towards improving our capacity for harvesting hydrogen fuel in a bid to fight climate change by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

The researchers detailed their long-lasting nanoscale material for electrolysis — the process of separating water into hydrogen and oxygen — in the journal Advanced Materials. According to study co-author Yang Yang, the new material “will open a new window for efficiently producing clean hydrogen fuel from seawater.”

There has been great debate in recent times over the feasibility of hydrogen fuel for helping to combat hydrogen fuel. Though Tesla and SpaceX CEO recently called the ideaof hydrogen cars “mind-bogglingly stupid,” companies such as Toyota and BMW have shown their support for the technology and are developing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Meeting the rapidly growing requirement for green hydrogen

For their nanoscale material, the UCF researchers devised a thin-film material featuring nanostructures on its surface. In their study, the scientists explain that the material is made of nickel selenide with added, or “doped,” iron and phosphor. “The seawater electrolysis performance achieved by the dual-doped film far surpasses those of the most recently reported, state-of-the-art electrolysis catalysts and meets the demanding requirements needed for practical application in the industries,” Yang explained.

Nanoscale material catalyzing the electrolysis reaction. Source: University of Central Florida

They say that not only is their material effective at catalyzing the electrolysis process, it also shows the stability and high performance required to use the material at an industrial scale — they tested their material for over 200 hours and said it retained high performance and stability throughout the tests. Earlier this month, French firm Lhyfe announced it was commencing tests on the world’s first offshore green hydrogen plant, which will make use of the abundant surrounding water source and a nearby wind turbine.

Though there is still debate over the use of hydrogen fuel as opposed to electricity, we will be much better off in a world where hydrogen and electricity compete with each other, instead of with the current supremacy of the internal combustion engine.

Super Oil & Gas Company Total Orders Hydrogen Re-Fueling Station from HRS – A Hydrogen Fuel Success Story


hrs-total-hydrogene_130321

Hydrogen Refueling Solutions (HRS) has announced that it has received an order from Total for the supply and installation of a hydrogen station at the site of one of its customers.

A European designer and manufacturer of hydrogen fueling stations, HRS is a success
story. Recently listed on the stock exchange, the Iserise company has just formalized an order related to the supply and installation of a hydrogen station for one of the total group’s customers.

GBN_Green-hydrogen_19122020

A hydrogen station delivered by June 2021

If hrS does not specify the location of this future station, it says it will be delivered and commissioned by June 2021.
Specially designed to meet the needs of Total’s teams, this station will be able to distribute up to 200 kilograms of hydrogen per day. Accessible to all types of vehicles, it will offer two levels of pressure: 350 and 700 bars. With a storage capacity of 190 kilos, it can be easily dismantled and transported.

(Quote) Philippe Callejon, Director of Mobility and New Energy of Total Marketing France,

“With this high-capacity, transportable HRS solution, Total is able to offer its customers an innovative solution of temporary rental offer turnkey and quickly deployable, to address their experimental operational needs (bus fleets, household dumpsters, heavy trucks, commercial vehicles …).” says

Hydrogen projects worth $300 billion are dropping green H2 prices fast


 
Hydrogen 1 download
 
Key hydrogen projects that have been announced globally – Hydrogen Council
 

A new Hydrogen Council report sheds some light on Hydrogen’s rise as a green fuel source. More than 30 countries now have a national H2 strategy and budget in place, and there are 228 projects in the pipeline on both the production and usage sides.

Europe is leading the way, with 126 projects announced to date, followed by Asia with 46, Oceania with 24 and North America with 19. In terms of gigawatt-scale H2 production projects, there are 17 projects planned, with the largest in Europe, Australia, the Middle East and Chile.

Overall, projects seem fairly well balanced between hydrogen production and end-use applications, with a smaller number focusing on distribution.

European projects are balanced between production and usage initiatives, while Korea and Japan are developing much more on the usage side, for both transport and industrial applications. Australia and the Middle East are more active on the supply side, working to position themselves as hydrogen exporters.

The majority of these projects – some 75 percent, it should be noted – have been announced but do not yet have funding committed. This figure includes budgets committed by governments for spending, for which no project has yet been identified.

Only US$45 billion worth of projects are at the “mature” stage, having reached the feasibility study or engineering and design stage, and $38 billion are at the “realized” stage, with a final investment decision made, construction started, or already operational. 

Hydrogen production projections for 2030 have leapt up in the last year. The previous report estimated that 2.3 million tons will be produced annually by 2030, and this report revises that figure up to 6.7 million tons. To put that another way, two-thirds of the global hydrogen production expected to be operational in 2030 has been announced in the last year.

Government decarbonization initiatives are a huge driving force behind the hydrogen wave, with some $70 billion committed globally. Carbon pricing is helping, with some 80 percent of global GDP covered by some kind of CO2 pricing mechanism. 

Japan and Korea, as you’d expect, are leading the charge on fuel cell vehicles, and globally the report projects some 4.5 million FCVs on the road by 2030, with 10,500 hydrogen fuel stations targeted to meet that demand.

Hydrogen 2 download

Green hydrogen production prices are dropping faster than previously expected, with optimal operations beginning to achieve price parity by 2030 even without carbon taxes on gray hydrogen  – Hydrogen Council

There’s good news too in terms of production costs, with prices for green, renewable hydrogen falling faster than expected. Partially, this is because electrolyzer supply chains are ramping up faster than expected, bringing the price of electrolyzers down 30-50 percent lower than anticipated.

Other factors include a declining cost of energy, with renewable energy costs revised down by 15 percent, and green hydrogen production companies figuring out their mix of renewable inputs more effectively to keep the hydrolyzers up and running longer.

So while “gray” hydrogen costs are expected to remain stable at around $1.59 per kg, green hydrogen is expected to drop from its current price around $4-5.50 per kilogram to hit an average of $1.50 by 2050, with green supply potentially becoming cheaper than gray hydrogen in optimal areas as soon as 2030. Low-carbon hydrogen production will start coming online around 2025, with prices sitting roughly between the two. Adding carbon taxes to the gray production could bring green hydrogen to price parity by 2030. 

Hydrogen transport is going to become a big deal, with major demand centers likely to look at imports. The cheapest way to do it for short to medium distances is through retrofitted pipelines, provided you’ve got a guaranteed demand to fill.

If demand fluctuates, trucks become more attractive. For longer distances, some routes have undersea pipelines that could be used, but much of the rest will have to be done using ships, which will add around $1-2 to the cost per kilogram.

Long-range overland pipelines also look like an interesting opportunity, with the report pointing out that hydrogen pipelines can transport 10 times more energy than a long-distance electricity transmission line at one eighth the cost. And existing pipelines can be retrofitted to handle hydrogen to vastly reduce the cost of pipeline projects.

The report makes further long-term projections for hydrogen vehicles, trucks, ships and aircraft. In aviation, the report projects hydrogen will become a cost-effective way to de-carbonize short and medium range flights (sub-10,000 km, or 6.200 mi) by around 2040, but there’ll need to be significant advances in storage to make it practical for longer range flights.

The report should not be taken as gospel, having been written by the H2 industry itself, but it makes for some interesting reading if you’re interested in the development of the clean energy economy.

Source: Hydrogen Council

“Great Things from Small Things” Top 50 Nanotech Blog – Our Top Posts This Week


Happy Holiday (Labor Day) Weekend Everyone! Here are our Top Posts from this past week … Just in case you missed them! We hope all of you are well and safe and continuing to ‘get back to normal’ as the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020 continues to restrain all of us in one way or another.

Thankfully however, COVID-19 has NOT restricted the Forward Advance of Innovation and Technology Solutions from the small worlds of Nanotechnology – “Great Things from Small Things” – Read and Enjoy and wonderful Holiday Weekend!Team GNT

Carbon Nanotube Second Skin Protects First Responders and Warfighters against Chem, Bio Agents – Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The same materials (adsorbents or barrier layers) that provide protection in current garments also detrimentally inhibit breathability.

Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of chemical weapons in the Syria conflict have provided a stark reminder of the plethora of chemical and biological threats that soldiers, medical personnel and first responders face during routine and emergency operations. Researchers have developed a smart, breathable fabric designed to protect the wearer against biological and chemical warfare agents. Material of this type could be used in clinical and medical settings as well.

Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of chemical weapons in the Syria conflict have provided a stark reminder of the plethora of chemical and biological threats that soldiers, medical personnel and first responders face during routine and emergency operations.

Read More … https://genesisnanotech.wordpress.com/2020/05/11/carbon-nanotube-second-skin-protects-first-responders-and-warfighters-against-chem-bio-agents-lawrence-livermore-national-laboratory/

MIT: Lighting the Way to Better Battery Technology

Supratim Das is determined to demystify lithium-ion batteries, by first understanding their flaws.  Photo: Lillie Paquette/School of Engineering

Doctoral candidate Supratim Das wants the world to know how to make longer-lasting batteries that charge mobile phones and electric cars.

Supratim Das’s quest for the perfect battery began in the dark. Growing up in Kolkata, India, Das saw that a ready supply of electric power was a luxury his family didn’t have. “I wanted to do something about it,” Das says. Now a fourth-year PhD candidate in MIT chemical engineering who’s months away from defending his thesis, he’s been investigating what causes the batteries that power the world’s mobile phones and electric cars to deteriorate over time.

Lithium-ion batteries, so-named for the movement of lithium ions that make them work, power most rechargeable devices today. The element lithium has properties that allow lithium-ion batteries to be both portable and powerful; the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to scientists who helped develop them in the late 1970s. But despite their widespread use, lithium-ion batteries, essentially a black box during operation, harbor mysteries that prevent scientists from unlocking their full potential. Das is determined to demystify them, by first understanding their flaws.

Read More … https://genesisnanotech.wordpress.com/2020/07/06/mit-lighting-the-way-to-better-battery-technology/

Nuclear Diamond Batteries could disrupt Energy/ Energy Storage as we know it … “Imagine a World where you wouldn’t need to charge your battery for …. Decades!”

Illustration of the NDB Battery in a Most Recognizable ‘18650’ Format

They will blow any energy density comparison out of the water, lasting anywhere from a decade to 28,000 years without ever needing a charge.”

“They will offer higher power density than lithium-ion. They will be nigh-on indestructible and totally safe in an electric car crash.”

And in some applications, like electric cars, they stand to be considerably cheaper than current lithium-ion packs despite their huge advantages.

In the words of Dr. John Shawe-Taylor, UNESCO Chair and University College London Professor: “NDB has the potential to solve the major global issue of carbon emissions in one stroke without the expensive infrastructure projects, energy transportation costs, or negative environmental impacts associated with alternate solutions such as carbon capture at fossil fuel power stations, hydroelectric plants, turbines, or nuclear power stations.

Read More … https://genesisnanotech.wordpress.com/2020/08/25/nano-diamond-self-charging-batteries-could-disrupt-energy-as-we-know-it-imagine-a-world-where-you-wouldnt-need-to-charge-your-battery-for-decades/

“Practical and Viable” Hydrogen Production from Solar – Long Sought Goal of Renewable Energy – Is Close … Oh So Close

Technology developed at the Technion: the oxygen and hydrogen are produced and stored in completely separate cells.

Technion Israel Institute of Technology

Israeli and Italian scientists have developed a renewable energy technology that converts solar energy to hydrogen fuel — and it’s reportedly at the threshold of “practical” viability.The new solar tech would offer a sustainable way to turn water and sunlight into storable energy for fuel cells, whether that stored power feeds into the electrical grid or goes to fuel-cell powered trucks, trains, cars, ships, planes or industrial processes.Think of this research as a sort of artificial photosynthesis, said Lilac Amirav, associate professor of chemistry at the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. (If it could be scaled up, the technology could eventually be the basis of “solar factories” in which arrays of solar collectors split water into stores of hydrogen fuel——as well as, for reasons discussed below, one or more other industrial chemicals.)Read More … https://genesisnanotech.wordpress.com/2020/09/02/practical-and-viable-hydrogen-production-from-solar-long-sought-goal-of-renewable-energy-is-close-oh-so-close/

Watch More … The EV ‘Revolution and Evolution’ … Will the Era of the ICE be over in 2025? 2030?

Tony Seba, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Author and Thought Leader, Lecturer at Stanford University, Keynote The reinvention and connection between infrastructure and mobility will fundamentally disrupt the clean transport model. It will change the way governments and consumers think about mobility, how power is delivered and consumed and the payment models for usage.

“Practical and Viable” Hydrogen Production from Solar – Long Sought Goal of Renewable Energy – Is Close … Oh So Close


Technion Israel Institute of Technology

Israeli and Italian scientists have developed a renewable energy technology that converts solar energy to hydrogen fuel — and it’s reportedly at the threshold of “practical” viability.

The new solar tech would offer a sustainable way to turn water and sunlight into storable energy for fuel cells, whether that stored power feeds into the electrical grid or goes to fuel-cell powered trucks, trains, cars, ships, planes or industrial processes.

Think of this research as a sort of artificial photosynthesis, said Lilac Amirav, associate professor of chemistry at the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. (If it could be scaled up, the technology could eventually be the basis of “solar factories” in which arrays of solar collectors split water into stores of hydrogen fuel——as well as, for reasons discussed below, one or more other industrial chemicals.)

“We [start with] a semiconductor that’s very similar to what we have in solar panels,” says Amirav. But rather than taking the photovoltaic route of using sunlight to liberate a current of electrons, the reaction they’re studying harnesses sunlight to efficiently and cost-effectively peel off hydrogen from water molecules.

The big hurdle to date has been that hydrogen and oxygen just as readily recombine once they’re split apart—that is, unless a catalyst can be introduced to the reaction that shunts water’s two component elements away from one another.

Enter the rod-shaped nanoparticles Amirav and co-researchers have developed. The wand-like rods (50-60 nanometers long and just 4.5 nm in diameter) are all tipped with platinum spheres 2–3 nm in diameter, like nano-size marbles fastened onto the ends of drinking straws.

Since 2010, when the team first began publishing papers about such specially tuned nanorods, they’ve been tweaking the design to maximize its ability to extract as much hydrogen and excess energy as possible from “solar-to-chemical energy conversion.”

Which brings us back to those “other” industrial chemicals. Because creating molecular hydrogen out of water also yields oxygen, they realized they had to figure out what to do with that byproduct.

“When you’re thinking about artificial photosynthesis, you care about hydrogen—because hydrogen’s a fuel,” says Amirav. “Oxygen is not such an interesting product. But that is the bottleneck of the process.”

There’s no getting around the fact that oxygen liberated from split water molecules carries energy away from the reaction, too. So, unless it’s harnessed, it ultimately represents just wasted solar energy—which means lost efficiency in the overall reaction.

Technology developed at the Technion: the oxygen and hydrogen are produced and stored in completely separate cells.

Prof. Avner Rothschild from the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering

Read More About “Hydrogen on Demand Technology” from Technion

So, the researchers added another reaction to the process. Not only does their platinum-tipped nanorod catalyst use solar energy to turn water into hydrogen, it also uses the liberated oxygen to convert the organic molecule benzylamine into the industrial chemical benzaldehyde (commonly used in dyes, flavoring extracts, and perfumes).

All told, the nanorods convert 4.2 percent of the energy of incoming sunlight into chemical bonds. Considering the energy in the hydrogen fuel alone, they convert 3.6 percent of sunlight energy into stored fuel.

These might seem like minuscule figures. But 3.6 percent is still considerably better than the 1-2 percent range that previous technologies had achieved.

And according to the U.S. Department of Energy, 5-10 percent efficiency is all that’s needed to reach what the researchers call the “practical feasibility threshold” for solar hydrogen generation.

Between February and August of this year, Amirav and her colleagues published about the above innovations in the journals NanoEnergy and Chemistry Europe. They also recently presented their research at the fall virtual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

In their presentation, which hinted at future directions for their work, they teased further efficiency improvements courtesy of new new work with AI data mining experts.

“We are looking for alternative organic transformations,” says Amirav. This way, she and her collaborators hope, their solar factories can produce hydrogen fuel plus an array of other useful industrial byproducts.

In the future, their artificial photosynthesis process could yield low-emission energy, plus some beneficial chemical extracts as a “practical” and “feasible” side-effect.

Fuel cells for hydrogen vehicles are lasting longer and longer and … Promising Research from the University of Copenhagen


The new electrocatalyst for hydrogen fuel cells consists of a thin platinum-cobalt alloy network and, unlike the catalysts commonly used today, does not require a carbon carrier. Credit: Gustav Sievers

Roughly 1 billion cars and trucks zoom about the world’s roadways. Only a few run on hydrogen.

This could change after a breakthrough achieved by researchers at the University of Copenhagen.

The breakthrough? A new catalyst that can be used to produce cheaper and far more sustainable hydrogen powered vehicles.

Hydrogen vehicles are a rare sight. This is partly because they rely on a large amount of platinum to serve as a catalyst in their fuel cells—about 50 grams. Typically, vehicles only need about five grams of this rare and precious material. Indeed, only 100 tons of platinum are mined annually, in South Africa.

Now, researchers at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Chemistry have developed a catalyst that doesn’t require such a large quantity of platinum.

“We have developed a catalyst which, in the laboratory, only needs a fraction of the amount of platinum that current  fuel cells for cars do. We are approaching the same amount of platinum as needed for a conventional .

At the same time, the new catalyst is much more stable than the catalysts deployed in today’s hydrogen powered vehicles,” explains Professor Matthias Arenz from the Department of Chemistry.

A paradigm shift for hydrogen vehicles

Sustainable technologies are often challenged by the limited availability of the rare materials that make them possible, which in turn, limits scalability.

Due to this current limitation, it is impossible to simply replace the world’s vehicles with hydrogen models overnight. As such, the new technology a game-changer.

“The new catalyst can make it possible to roll out hydrogen vehicles on a vastly greater scale than could have ever been achieved in the past,” states Professor Jan Rossmeisl, center leader of the Center for High Entropy Alloy Catalysis at UCPH’s Department of Chemistry.

The new catalyst improves fuel cells significantly, by making it possible to produce more horsepower per gram of platinum. This in turn, makes the production of hydrogen  vehicles more sustainable.

More durable, less platinum

Because only the surface of a catalyst is active, as many platinum atoms as possible are needed to coat it. A catalyst must also be durable. Herein lies the conflict.

To gain as much surface area as possible, today’s catalysts are based on -nano-particles which are coated over carbon. Unfortunately, carbon makes catalysts unstable. The new catalyst is distinguished by being carbon-free.

Instead of nano-particles, the researchers have developed a network of nanowires characterized an abundance of surface area and high durability.

“With this breakthrough, the notion of hydrogen vehicles becoming commonplace has become more realistic. It allows them to become cheaper, more sustainable and more durable,” says Jan Rossmeisl.

Dialogue with the automotive industry

The next step for the researchers is to scale up their results so that the technology can be implemented in hydrogen vehicles.

“We are in talks with the  about how this breakthrough can be rolled out in practice. So, things look quite promising,” says Professor Matthias Arenz.

The research results have just been published in Nature Materials, one of the leading scientific journals for materials research. It is the first article in which every researcher at the basic research center, “Center for High Entropy Alloy Catalysis (CHEAC)”, has collaborated.

The center is a so-called Center of Excellence, supported by the Danish National Research Foundation.

“At the center, we develop new materials to create sustainable chemicals and fuels that help society make the chemical industry greener. That it is now possible to scale up the production of hydrogen vehicles, and in a sustainable way, is a major step forward,” says center leader Jan Rossmeisl.

Hyperion’s hydrogen-powered supercar can drive 1,000 miles on a single tank And … Go ‘0’ to 60 in 2+ seconds


The Hyperion XP-1

Hyperion, a California-based company, has unveiled a hydrogen-powered supercar the company hopes will change the way people view hydrogen fuel cell technology. 

The Hyperion XP-1 will be able to drive for up to 1,000 miles on one tank of compressed hydrogen gas and its electric motors will generate more than 1,000 horsepower, according to the company. The all-wheel-drive car can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in a little over two seconds, the company said.

Hydrogen fuel cell cars are electric cars that use hydrogen to generate power inside the car rather than using batteries to store energy. The XP-1 doesn’t combust hydrogen but uses it in fuel cells that combine hydrogen with oxygen from the air in a process that creates water, the vehicle’s only emission, and a stream of electricity to power the car.

The Hyperion XP-1's main purpose is to generate interest in hydrogen power, the company's CEO said.

The Hyperion XP-1’s main purpose is to generate interest in hydrogen power, the company’s CEO said.

The XP-1 has much longer range than a battery-powered electric car because compressed hydrogen has much more power per liter than a battery, Hyperion CEO Angelo Kafantaris explained.

Also, because hydrogen gas is very light, the overall vehicle weighs much less than one packed with heavy batteries. That, in turn, makes the car more energy efficient so that it can go farther and faster.

Many car companies, including HondaToyota, Hyundai and General Motors, have produced hydrogen fuel vehicles for research purposes or for sale in small numbers. 

But the technology is starting to gain more support. Start up truck maker, Nikola, for example, plans to sell hydrogen-powered semis and pickup trucks. Other companies haven’t yet created an exciting car that will capture the public’s attention, though, said Kafantaris.

The biggest challenge facing hydrogen-powered cars has been fueling them. Compared to gasoline or electricity, there’s little hydrogen infrastructure in America. Public charging stations for electric cars are much more plentiful than hydrogen filling stations A Department of Energy map of publicly accessible hydrogen filling stations shows clusters of dots around major California cities and no dots at all throughout nearly all the rest of the country.

Hydrogen is extremely light which helps the Hyperion XP-1's performance.

Hydrogen is extremely light which helps the Hyperion XP-1’s performance.

Hydrogen is the first and simplest element on the periodic table. Colorless and odorless, it has only a single proton at its center with one electron around it. 

While it is the most plentiful element in the universe, hydrogen doesn’t naturally exist by itself. Before it can be used as a fuel, hydrogen has to be broken out of molecules of water, natural gas or other substances. That’s usually done by using electricity to split those larger molecules apart. Energy is then released inside the car when the hydrogen combines again with oxygen. 

The main advantage of hydrogen is that pumping a tank full of hydrogen takes much less time than charging a battery. It only takes three to five minutes to fill the tank on the XP-1 for a 1,000 mile trip, for instance.

Hydrogen gas also isn’t subject to wear and degradation as batteries are, especially when fast-charged, said Kafantaris. The XP-1 does have a battery that acts as a buffer to store electricity generated by the fuel cell, but it’s much smaller than the battery packs used in electric cars.

The real purpose of the Hyperion XP-1 is to generate interest in hydrogen fuel, the company said.

Hyperion already has several operational prototype cars, said Kafantaris. The first production cars are expected to be delivered to customers by the end of next year. Kafantaris did not detail pricing for the car, but indicated that prices will vary depending on the level of performance.

The highest-performing versions, ones capable of producing 1,000 horsepower, could cost in the millions. The company is capping production at 300 examples.

The company is hoping to manufacture the XP-1 somewhere in the Midwest, Kafantaris said. Following the XP-1, the company hopes to make more practical hydrogen-fueled cars for a broader range of customers.

The company also hopes to popularize the idea of hydrogen as an energy medium for vehicles, as well as for other uses, he said. Hyperion has been working with NASA to commercialize various hydrogen technologies that the space agency currently uses and to develop new uses, he said. 

The space agency confirmed to CNN Business that Hyperion has agreements to license a number of NASA technologies.

“Part of what we’re aiming to do is to give a sense of pride for what America has done in the past, through NASA technology, and kind of brings people together around something that everybody can look at and say ‘That’s American, I’m proud of that,” Kafantaris said.

‘Artificial leaf’ concept inspires research into solar-powered fuel production: Rice University


A schematic and electron microscope cross-section show the structure of an integrated, solar-powered catalyst to split water into hydrogen fuel and oxygen. The module developed at Rice University can be immersed into water directly to produce fuel when exposed to sunlight. Credit: Jia Liang/Rice University

Rice University researchers have created an efficient, low-cost device that splits water to produce hydrogen fuel.

The platform developed by the Brown School of Engineering lab of Rice materials scientist Jun Lou integrates catalytic electrodes and  that, when triggered by sunlight, produce electricity. The current flows to the catalysts that turn water into hydrogen and oxygen, with a sunlight-to-hydrogen efficiency as high as 6.7%.

This sort of catalysis isn’t new, but the lab packaged a  layer and the electrodes into a single module that, when dropped into water and placed in sunlight, produces hydrogen with no further input.

The  introduced by Lou, lead author and Rice postdoctoral fellow Jia Liang and their colleagues in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano is a self-sustaining producer of  that, they say, should be simple to produce in bulk.

“The concept is broadly similar to an artificial leaf,” Lou said. “What we have is an integrated module that turns sunlight into electricity that drives an electrochemical reaction. It utilizes water and sunlight to get chemical fuels.”

Perovskites are crystals with cubelike lattices that are known to harvest light. The most efficient perovskite  produced so far achieve an efficiency above 25%, but the materials are expensive and tend to be stressed by light, humidity and heat.

“Jia has replaced the more expensive components, like platinum, in perovskite solar cells with alternatives like carbon,” Lou said. “That lowers the entry barrier for commercial adoption. Integrated devices like this are promising because they create a system that is sustainable. This does not require any external power to keep the module running.”

Liang said the key component may not be the perovskite but the polymer that encapsulates it, protecting the module and allowing to be immersed for long periods.

“Others have developed catalytic systems that connect the solar cell outside the water to immersed electrodes with a wire,” he said. “We simplify the system by encapsulating the perovskite layer with a Surlyn (polymer) film.”

The patterned film allows sunlight to reach the solar cell while protecting it and serves as an insulator between the cells and the electrodes, Liang said.

“With a clever system design, you can potentially make a self-sustaining loop,” Lou said. “Even when there’s no sunlight, you can use stored energy in the form of chemical fuel. You can put the hydrogen and oxygen products in separate tanks and incorporate another module like a fuel cell to turn those fuels back into electricity.”

The researchers said they will continue to improve the encapsulation technique as well as the solar themselves to raise the efficiency of the modules.

More information: Jia Liang et al, A Low-Cost and High-Efficiency Integrated Device toward Solar-Driven Water Splitting, ACS Nano (2020). DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.9b09053

Journal information: ACS Nano

Provided by Rice University

New Catalyst Recycles Greenhouse Gases into Fuel and Hydrogen Gas: KAIST and Rice University


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       The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST

Scientists have taken a major step toward a circular carbon economy by developing a long-lasting, economical catalyst that recycles greenhouse gases into ingredients that can be used in fuel, hydrogen gas, and other chemicals. The results could be revolutionary in the effort to reverse global warming, according to the researchers. The study was published on February 14 in Science.

“We set out to develop an effective catalyst that can convert large amounts of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane without failure,” said Cafer T. Yavuz, paper author and associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and of chemistry at KAIST.

The catalyst, made from inexpensive and abundant nickel, magnesium, and molybdenum, initiates and speeds up the rate of reaction that converts carbon dioxide and methane into hydrogen gas. It can work efficiently for more than a month.

This conversion is called ‘dry reforming’, where harmful gases, such as carbon dioxide, are processed to produce more useful chemicals that could be refined for use in fuel, plastics, or even pharmaceuticals. It is an effective process, but it previously required rare and expensive metals such as platinum and rhodium to induce a brief and inefficient chemical reaction.

Other researchers had previously proposed nickel as a more economical solution, but carbon byproducts would build up and the surface nanoparticles would bind together on the cheaper metal, fundamentally changing the composition and geometry of the catalyst and rendering it useless.

“The difficulty arises from the lack of control on scores of active sites over the bulky catalysts surfaces because any refinement procedures attempted also change the nature of the catalyst itself,” Yavuz said.

The researchers produced nickel-molybdenum nanoparticles under a reductive environment in the presence of a single crystalline magnesium oxide. As the ingredients were heated under reactive gas, the nanoparticles moved on the pristine crystal surface seeking anchoring points. The resulting activated catalyst sealed its own high-energy active sites and permanently fixed the location of the nanoparticles — meaning that the nickel-based catalyst will not have a carbon build up, nor will the surface particles bind to one another. (Article continues below **)

Read More from Rice University: Rice reactor turns greenhouse gas into pure liquid fuel

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This schematic shows the electrolyzer developed at Rice to reduce carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, to valuable fuels. At left is a catalyst that selects for carbon dioxide and reduces it to a negatively charged formate, which is pulled through a gas diffusion layer (GDL) and the anion exchange membrane (AEM) into the central electrolyte. At the right, an oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalyst generates positive protons from water and sends them through the cation exchange membrane (CEM). The ions recombine into formic acid or other products that are carried out of the system by deionized (DI) water and gas. Illustration by Chuan Xia and Demin Liu

 

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(** New catalyst recycles greenhouse gases into fuel and hydrogen gas continues)

“It took us almost a year to understand the underlying mechanism,” said first author Youngdong Song, a graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST. “Once we studied all the chemical events in detail, we were shocked.”

The researchers dubbed the catalyst Nanocatalysts on Single Crystal Edges (NOSCE). The magnesium-oxide nanopowder comes from a finely structured form of magnesium oxide, where the molecules bind continuously to the edge. There are no breaks or defects in the surface, allowing for uniform and predictable reactions.

“Our study solves a number of challenges the catalyst community faces,” Yavuz said. “We believe the NOSCE mechanism will improve other inefficient catalytic reactions and provide even further savings of greenhouse gas emissions.”

This work was supported, in part, by the Saudi-Aramco-KAIST CO2 Management Center and the National Research Foundation of Korea.

Other contributors include Ercan Ozdemir, Sreerangappa Ramesh, Aldiar Adishev, and Saravanan Subramanian, all of whom are affiliated with the Graduate School of Energy, Environment, Water and Sustainability at KAIST; Aadesh Harale, Mohammed Albuali, Bandar Abdullah Fadhel, and Aqil Jamal, all of whom are with the Research and Development Center in Saudi Arabia; and Dohyun Moon and Sun Hee Choi, both of whom are with the Pohang Accelerator Laboratory in Korea. Ozdemir is also affiliated with the Institute of Nanotechnology at the Gebze Technical University in Turkey; Fadhel and Jamal are also affiliated with the Saudi-Armco-KAIST CO2 Management Center in Korea.


Story Source:

Materials provided by The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Youngdong Song, Ercan Ozdemir, Sreerangappa Ramesh, Aldiar Adishev, Saravanan Subramanian, Aadesh Harale, Mohammed Albuali, Bandar Abdullah Fadhel, Aqil Jamal, Dohyun Moon, Sun Hee Choi, Cafer T. Yavuz. Dry reforming of methane by stable Ni–Mo nanocatalysts on single-crystalline MgOScience, 2020; 367 (6479): 777 DOI: 10.1126/science.aav2412