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CHBE 565 Seminar, Prof. Bruce Logan, Penn State University, "Innovations in Green Hydrogen using Novel Water Electrolyzer and Microbial Electrolysis Cell Materials and Configurations"

Event Type
Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and International Paper Company
116 Roger Adams Laboratory
Mar 29, 2022   2:00 pm  
Christy Bowser
Originating Calendar
Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering - Seminars and Events

Hydrogen gas is central to many plans to decarbonize our energy infrastructure to address climate change. Compressed and liquified H2 can be used to power large transportation vehicles such as trucks, ships, and planes at higher energy densities than batteries, but the H2 must be made without CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. Two methods of green H2 production are discussed in this presentation: using water electrolyzers (WE) supplied with impaired (salty) water; and microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) fueled by biomass. Reverse osmosis (RO) membranes present an interesting opportunity for applications in WE that enable the use of impaired waters due to their high rejection of salt ions but relatively enabled transport of water ions (protons and hydroxide ions) and water molecules. H2 production using RO membranes in WE is shown here to be comparable to traditional PEM-based systems based on cell overpotentials and rates. The success of this approach is dependent on generation of high pH gradients across the active layer of the membrane, and thus using RO membranes for WE provides an interesting platform for understanding how water ion transport occurs through the active layer of these membranes. Some preliminary results on ion transport are presented based on COMSOL modeling. Another method for using impaired waters in WE is to use conventional ion exchange membranes coupled with a vapor anolyte, which minimizes salt ion crossover. An alternative approach based on using biomass for H2 generation is using MECs and bacteria to generate an electrical current that can be used to electrochemically evolve H2 gas with reduced electrical power requirements compared to WE. Recent advances in increasing power from microbial fuel cells is shown to be successfully translated to MECs to produce much higher H2 gas generation rates in these systems. Overall, these different electrochemically-based processes could enable more economical directions in green H2 production to help decarbonize our energy infrastructure.

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