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“Green” hydrogen soon with the heat of the sun – the sunny side

“Green” hydrogen soon with the heat of the sun – the sunny side

researchers in University of Colorado Green hydrogen and e-fuel. According to study leader Al Weimer, they can do this at a lower cost than other research groups in Germany and Israel, among other places.

Solar constellations replace electrolysis

Traditionally, “green” hydrogen is produced by electrolysis, with electricity from the wind and sun providing the energy needed. Water can also be separated with the aim of producing green hydrogen by thermochemistry at a temperature of more than 900 °C. This level can be reached in the so-called solar signs.

In such systems, mirrors collect sunlight and focus it on a receiver at the top of the tower. Ceramic beads are usually heated there. The air carries the heat away, which eventually causes the water to split and form green hydrogen. This could be used directly, for example to decarbonize steelworks or to generate electricity in fuel cells to overcome power shortages.

Carbon dioxide from the air can also be thermally converted into carbon monoxide (CO) and oxygen. When mixed with oxygen, carbon dioxide becomes a chemical feedstock synthesis gas, which can be converted into kerosene, gasoline and diesel, among other things, so that aircraft have less of an impact on the climate. In addition, these e-fuels will make roads, rail, and shipping more climate friendly.

Hydrogen production concept (diagram: Joule (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2023.07.016)

With a lot of pressure and stimulus

Other research groups have previously shown that while such an approach to producing hydrogen and carbon dioxide is possible, it is not efficient enough to produce syngas in a commercially viable way. Weimer and his team perform thermochemical cleavage at high pressure and with a relatively inexpensive iron-aluminum catalyst. With this trick, hydrogen production can be doubled with the same energy input.

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One day we will have a choice between fossil fuels and solar fuels at the gas stations. We can imagine that e-fuels are cheaper than fossil fuels, hopes Kent Warren, a research associate at Wimmer. The researchers will present the new method in Joule magazine.


The report was from Editor (Wolfgang Kempkens) 2023 Written – Article may not be redistributed without permission!