University: University of St Andrews
Sector(s): Energy & Renewables, Chemical, Engineering & Manufacturing, Materials
Renewable electricity from sources such as wind, tide or solar are intermittent and cannot be controlled to times of peak energy use. The most convenient method of small-scale storage is the transformation of electricity into hydrogen for later transformation back into electricity by a fuel cell. However existing electrolysers are inefficient resulting in a significant energy loss in the conversion and storage process adding to overall costs. The new technology surmounts these problems as the hydrogen production proces is substantially simplified and uses apparatus of relatively economic construction. New materials and designs have been developed to electrolyse steam at 500-600 degrees Celsius. The elevated temperature makes the conversion process more efficient by simplifying the production need, reducing the complexity of the balance of the plant and lowering the cost of the produced hydrogen. The new designs are based on protonic conducting membranes which should produce pure ready to use H2.
- High temperature electrolysis is more efficient than at low temperature
- Proton conducting membranes produce pure, dry hydrogen ready for use
- Gives more effective generation when coupled with intermittent renewable energy generation
This new electrolyser could be used anywhere clean, dry hydrogen needs to be produced either at the site of generation or at distributed sites near the end users.There is an anticipated growing market of $20 billion/year in the US alone for hydrogen generation for fuel cell technology.
The University of St Andrews has granted patents in the USA, Canada and Europe and the research group involved continues to perform R&D in hydrogen production and storage. The University would welcome enquiries from parties interested in developing commercial applications of hydrogen production and storage. The University of St Andrews is looking to set up a strategic licensing and research support agreement with a company in hydrogen production/storage.
Granted patents: US 7,906,006 and US 8,262,896. Europe 1730327.