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Hydrogen and Sustainable Fuels Projects

E1-22: Demonstration of a Modular and Integrated Solar-powered PV/MD/Electrolyzer System for Generation of Hydrogen Fuel

Ultrapure water production is vital for sustainable green hydrogen production by electrolysis. The current industrial process to generate ultrapure water involves energy-intensive processes, such as reverse osmosis. This study demonstrates a facile method to produce ultrapure water from simulated seawater using a low capital cost and low energy consuming membrane distilla-tion (MD) approach that is driven by the waste heat from photovoltaic (PV) panels. To optimize the PV-MD operation, modeling efforts to design a multilayered MD system were carried out. The results were used to guide the construction of several prototype devices using different mate-rials. The best performing PV-MD device, containing evaporation and condensation regions made from steel sheets and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) membranes, can produce high purity water with conductivity less than 40 mS and flux higher than 100 g/m2hr, which is suitable for typical electrolyzer use.

Principle Investigators - Dr. Benjamin Hsiao, Dr. Devinder Mahajan
Sponsor - US Navy Office of Naval Research

Development of Cost-Efficient Membrane Distillation Technology to Improve Source Water Purity for Solar-Powered Hydrogen Generation by Electrolysis

Green hydrogen production via electrolysis offers new opportunities for dynamic and intermittent power generation (e.g., solar and wind). The current project goal is to demonstrate a modular and integrated solar-powered photovoltaic (PV)/membrane distillation (MD)/electrolyzer system that can provide small-scale distributed hydrogen production in a completely sustainable manner, suited for off-grid operations. The principle of the PV/MD system is to use the excess heat in the PV panel (> 80% of solar energy) to simultaneously (1) maintain the typical solar energy – electricity conversion efficiency (~20%), and (2) provide high quality deionized water supply suitable for hydrogen production. The unique PV/MD system is currently being demonstrated in the ONR invested SBU project to provide drinking water solutions while maintaining high solar energy – electricity conversion efficiency. The proposed project will incorporate ultrapure water generated by the scalable PV/MD system to an existing 5 kW electrolyzer to produce hydrogen fuel that can power 1 kW fuel cell.

Principle Investigator - Dr. Devinder Mahajan
Sponsor - National Grid

Coupling Hydrogen Value Chain in The P2G Demonstration Unit

This research collaboration between Consolidated Edison Corp. and SBU evaluated the large-scale hydrogen storage and transport options for high-pressure (10,000psig) storage in tanks (P2G - power to gas). The research teams tested two systems: 1) hydrogen storage in metal hydrides at pressures below 500psig and 2) high-density hydrogen storage as a liquid. This project studied the feasibility of moving hydrogen in the liquid state and then compared the technology feasibility and economics metal hydrides versus liquid hydrogen as a method to store hydrogen. To advance the P2G concept to the commercial stage, several key R&D areas were addressed:
1) reduced hydrogen production cost
2) safe transport of hydrogen in existing repurposed natural gas pipelines, where applicable, while maintaining integrity of pipeline materials
3) transient hydrogen storage for uninterrupted feed availability, and
4) customized end-use.

The 5kW unit can store up to 50 Nm3 hydrogen that translates into about 12 times the hydrogen production rate. The hydrogen absorption/desorption phenomenon in metal hydrides is well studied. The team studied these parameters in the P2G unit to establish the reaction kinetics of hydrogen storage and evolution on-demand. ConEd has interest in using a hydrogen storage system that can replace cryogenic system.

The focus is on continued study of the hydrogen Absorption/Desorption kinetics in mixed metal hydrides. We are optimizing the system to establish life cycle of the materials by establishing the number of cycles. We are also studying the effect of impurities, normally present in natural gas, on the hydrogen absorption material's lifetime. These data would help design a commercial scale system that can store and release hydrogen on-demand.

Principle Investigator - Dr. Devinder Mahajan
Sponsor - ConEdison

Hydro Quebec - Stony Book University Pilot Project: Benefits of Flexible Hydro Power via CHPE for Efficient and Reliable Integration of Offshore Wind Energies in the New York State

This project investigates the full values of Hydro Quebec’s generation via Champlain Hudson Power Express (CHPE) in downstate New York for better integration of offshore wind energies (OSW). The project conducts a groundbreaking study that a) optimally exploits the flexibility of HQ’s generation similar to that of energy storage for compensating for the uncertainty and variability of OSW, and b) realistically simulates a detailed NYS grid model with optimal day-ahead/real-time hourly system-wise dispatch with HQ’s generation and OSW. The project will provide a benefit analysis including reduced OSW curtailments, lower NYS system-wise energy cost, lower CO2 emissions, and avoided battery and transmission investment, all achieved with HQ’s generation via CHPE.

Principle Investigator - Yue Zhao
Sponsor - Hydro Quebec

Tunable Catalytic Surfaces Synthesized and Studied by In-Situ Methods

Research examining modification of oxide surfaces with nanostructure has produced exciting materials for optical, mechanical, chemical, and other applications. These nanostructured surfaces can accelerate the chemical reactions used to produce fuel, enabling cheaper, more efficient, and more environmentally-sound production. As such, this project stands to protect the Nation's security through access to more affordable fuel sources. The project will advance understanding of how aspects of the nanostructured surface formation can facilitate the transformation of atmospheric emissions into fuels. This project also seeks to integrate research and educational activities through a combination of traditional and pioneering approaches. For example, the investigator plans to introduce educational games and on-line learning tools into undergraduate and high school courses. The effectiveness of efforts to broaden the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM will be evaluated through the on-line learning outcomes. Graduate students in the investigator's "Materials Impact on the Environment" course will have the opportunity to conduct pilot testing of self-cleaning catalytic coatings, which will be deposited on on-campus solar panels.

Principle Investigator - Alexander Orlov
Sponsor - National Science Foundation


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