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Researchers in Boreskov Institute of Catalysis Work on High-Efficient Hydrogen Filling Stations

18 August 2021

Researchers in Boreskov Institute of Catalysis work on a project of improved hydrogen filling station. The development of the new catalytic processes and materials would allow obtaining pure product as well as increasing the efficiency of transformation of natural gas into hydrogen.

Hydrogen is a next-generation fuel that gives three times more energy than petroleum. The hydrogen filling stations can be of three types. The first type uses pure hydrogen brought from plants, the second type manufactures hydrogen with the help of electrolysis, and the third type makes hydrogen at premises from natural gas. The researchers of Boreskov Institute of catalysis consider the third type, since there are heavy stocks of natural gas and a well-developed network of gas-pipes in Russia. In spite of all advantages of hydrogen energetics for transport, there is only one hydrogen filling station in Russia, located in the vicinities of Moscow.

“Introduction of hydrogen energetics is hampered by a relatively high production cost as well as by the problem of “egg and chicken”: since there is no developed infrastructure, there will not be a high number of consumers, but without the consumers it is difficult to develop the infrastructure. As a transition we suggest creating a primary network of hydrogen filling stations on the basis of the existing gas-pipe network. The technologies for obtaining hydrogen from natural gas are known, but they are scaled for high powers. We would like to adapt them to the problem of local obtaining of highly pure and low power hydrogen as well as to improve the efficiency of the processes”, said Dr. Dmitry Potemkin, a Senior Researcher of Boreskov Institute of Catalysis.

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The traditional process for obtaining hydrogen from natural gas includes the stages of steam conversion of methane, steam conversion of carbon monoxide, and pressure swing adsorption of carbon dioxide. The third stage requires performing the whole process chain under increased pressure, from 1 MPa (10 atm). It affects the equilibrium methane conversion, i.e. methane is lost, and the energetic efficiency of the process decreases.

“We, in turn, suggest introducing a stage of sorption-catalytic steam conversion of carbon monoxide into the process, which would allow significantly improve the thermodynamics of the processes and probably drop the stage of the pressure swing adsorption. We also plan to develop new materials for extracting carbon dioxide in the course of reaction. Due to abandoning the pressure swing adsorption the pressure for hydrogen production can be reduced from 10 to 1-3 atm, thus increasing the equilibrium methane conversion”, explained Potemkin.

The Project “Catalytic Materials and Technologies for the Russian Hydrogen Filling Station” is supported by the Russian Science Foundation for three years, and within this time the researchers plan to make a laboratory plant for obtaining hydrogen that models the operation of a filling station. As Dmitry Potemkin noted the technology has sparked interest of private companies working in the field of “green energetics”. The results of the study can also be of interest for the manufacturers of natural gas.



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