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Comment Separation Processes

Ammonia as a H2 carrier enabled by a catalytic membrane

By Paul Grad |

A major challenge in using hydrogen to power motor vehicles is the difficulty in transporting H2 to refueling stations. Researchers at CSIRO Energy (Melbourne, Australia; www.csiro.au/energy) have responded to the challenge by converting H2 to NH3 and then using existing transport infrastructure. NH3 is well suited for use as a H2 carrier, because it is a liquid at moderate pressures and temperatures and has a volumetric hydrogen density about 45% higher than liquid H2. The efficiency and cost benefits of using NH3 as a hydrogen carrier increase with the distance between production and utilization. CSIRO achieves the conversion of NH3 back to high-purity H2 at, or near, the point of use, by means of a catalytic membrane that allows hydrogen to pass through while blocking all other gases. Coupling membranes with a suitable catalyst for NH3 decomposition allows efficient extraction of pure H2 from NH3. The membrane is a vanadium-based alloy, and is said to deliver pure H2 at a far lower cost than the competing palladium-based membrane technology. CSIRO is working on a two-year project to demonstrate its H2-production system, to deliver at least 5 kg/d of H2, directly from ammonia. The project is being being supported by BOC, Hyundai,…
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