The combustion of fossil energy carriers in coal and gas power plants produces waste gases that are harmful to the environment. Jülich researchers are working on methods to not only reduce such gases, but also utilize them. They are developing ceramic membranes with which pure hydrogen can be separated from carbon dioxide and water vapour. The hydrogen can then be used as a clean energy carrier, for example in fuel cells. The researchers have now been able to increase the efficiency of these membranes to an unprecedented level. Their research results were published in Scientific Reports (DOI: 10.1038/srep34773).
In technical systems, membranes can be used to separate gases – in a manner that is more efficient and cost-effective than with established methods. Membrane systems thus enable the separation of harmful greenhouse gases with comparatively low losses. At the same time, they also make it possible to obtain high-purity hydrogen for clean energy generation and storage, making ceramic membranes a key technology for transforming the energy sector (Energiewende).
One option for separating hydrogen from gas mixtures is a two-phase membrane. "This consists of two ceramic materials. The individual grains are only a thousandth of a millimetre in size and exhibit both ionic and electronic conductivity," explains Dr. Mariya Ivanova from the Jülich Institute of Energy and Climate Research.
The components of the hydrogen – protons and electrons – are thus transported individually through the membrane. On the other side, they combine to form high-purity hydrogen. This is made possible by tailor-made vacancies in the crystal lattice of the ceramics, which are occupied by protons. These protons, driven by pressure differences and temperature, are conducted through the material of the membrane.
"They dock onto a hydrogen ion and jump in the direction of the lower pressure to the next hydrogen ion, from vacancy to vacancy, until they form elementary hydrogen again on the other side," says Mariya Ivanova. "The electrons are transported through the second component of the ceramic and ensure that charge equalization occurs."
However, the method still has a number of weak points. For example, high temperatures are needed for hydrogen separation, thus meaning it requires a lot of energy. In addition, the membranes investigated so far are not stable and become unusable in a carbonaceous environment. The hydrogen flow rate is also not yet high enough. Nevertheless, the researchers headed by Mariya Ivanova have made some significant progress: by inserting foreign atoms into the crystal lattice, their membrane is more stable and can be used at lower temperatures. However, the greatest achievement is the increased hydrogen flow. "It is nearly twice as high as in all other cases that have been documented to date," says a delighted Ivanova.
The Jülich membranes used for the measurements are only the size of a 10 cent coin and half a millimetre thick. "It is still too early to be thinking about an industrial application," explains Ivanova. "We will continue to conduct research, searching for a suitable material with a high flow rate and stability as well as low costs. The next step will be to increase component size to make it fit for industrial application." The researchers are initially aiming to achieve an area of ten by ten square centimetres.
"Hydrogen separation through tailored dual phase membranes with nominal composition BaCe0.8Eu0.2O3-δ:Ce0.8Y0.2O2-δ at intermediate temperatures" by Mariya E. Ivanova, Sonia Escolástico, Maria Balaguer, Justinas Palisaitis, Yoo Jung Sohn, Wilhelm A. Meulenberg, Olivier Guillon, Joachim Mayer, and Jose M. Serra, DOI: 10.1038/srep34773
Dr. Eng. Mariya E. Ivanova
Head of the hydrogen-permeable membranes team
Tel: +49 2461 61-5194
Prof. Dr. Olivier Guillon
Director at the Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK) Materials Synthesis and Processing
Tel: +49 2461 61-5181
Dr. Regine Panknin
Tel: +49 2461 61-9054
http://www.fz-juelich.de/iek/iek-1/EN/Home/home_node.html Institute of Energy and Climate Research: Materials Synthesis and Processing (IEK-1)
http://www.fz-juelich.de/iek/iek-1/EN/Research/Gastrennmembrane/_node.html Gas Separation Membranes at IEK-1
Dipl.-Biologin Annette Stettien | Forschungszentrum Jülich
Nano-scale process may speed arrival of cheaper hi-tech products
09.11.2018 | University of Edinburgh
Nuclear fusion: wrestling with burning questions on the control of 'burning plasmas'
25.10.2018 | Lehigh University
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
19.11.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.11.2018 | Information Technology
19.11.2018 | Life Sciences