Clarkson University one of 15 projects awarded $29M in DOE funds to develop new Hydrogen creation

Sept. 7, 2022
Clarkson’s project is titled “Metallic Membrane Reactors: An Intensified Process to Transforming the Production or Carbon-Neutral Hydrogen,” and seeks to produce low-cost H2 from biomass gasification using membrane-assisted water-gas shift reactors

A New York university known for its high research activity has been awarded $535,000 by the U.S. Department of Energy to study and advance green hydrogen solutions utilizing biomass and membranes.

Clarkson University was one of 15 projects awarded nearly $29 million in DOE funds for development of H2 solutions. Hydrogen does not contain a carbon atom and releases no carbon dioxide greenhouse gas, but it must created via clean energy resources to be considered green.

Clarkson’s project is titled “Metallic Membrane Reactors: An Intensified Process to Transforming the Production or Carbon-Neutral Hydrogen,” and is led by Simona Liquori (pictured), the school’s assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. The aim of the effort is to produce low-cost H2 from biomass gasification using membrane-assisted water-gas shift (MAWGS) reactors.

"We need clean energy sources to reduce the impact on the environment, and hydrogen is going to play a major role in the near future," Liguori said in a statement. "So, we are developing an entirely new avenue to produce clean and renewable hydrogen from biomass gasification, where gas upgrading and cleaning, as well as hydrogen separation, are performed in one single step by the use of the MAWGS reactor, aka membrane reactor technology."

Hydrogen is the lightest and simplest element abundant in many other elements and gases. To be harnessed, however, it must be created, either through carbon-intensive steam reforming of methane gas or by electrolysis using electricity to separate the H2 atoms from water.

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Many governmental and private industry energy firms are exploring the potential of hydrogen for applications from utility-scale power generation in gas-fired turbines or in fuel-cell transportation for fleet decarbonization. Companies working on developing H2-powered projects include Mitsubishi Power, Siemens, Plug Power, Uniper and more.

"Clean hydrogen is an incredibly versatile tool for decarbonizing our economy and tackling the climate crisis," says U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. "DOE is investing in projects that will help bring down the cost of producing clean hydrogen, increase its availability as an affordable, low-carbon fuel for power production, and generate good-paying jobs."

DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, under the purview of the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, will manage the 15 selected projects.

Membranes of different types are utilized in electrolysis processes. The microporous materials allow certain elements to pass at micron levels in the electrolysis. Among those most used now include alkaline and proton exchange membrane (PEM) water electrolyzers.

Clarkson University, founded 1896 in Potsdam, is named after businessman Thomas Clarkson. It is home to the Center for Advanced Materials Processing.

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(Rod Walton, senior editor for EnergyTech, is a 14-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper and trade journalist. He can be reached at [email protected]).

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