Waste Biomass to Renewable Hydrogen

Summary
Extracting hydrogen from biomass represents a valuable approach by which a waste organic stream can be transformed into hydrogen (or hydrogen-carriers) for downstream use or as an exportable commodity. This project aims to develop a biomass reforming system capable of extracting hydrogen and/or hydrogen-carriers - such as bio-alcohols and bio-acids - from biomass. The biomass reforming system will comprise a biomass pre-conditioning reactor (BPR) coupled with a flow electrolyser cell (FEC) to produce renewable hydrogen without any carbon dioxide emissions.

How the project works
Biomass is fed into a biomass pre-conditioning reactor where it is transformed into bio-alcohol/bio-acid hydrogen-carrying compounds. The product stream is then passed into the flow electrolyser cell where the hydrogen is extracted and recovered. Energy requirements for the BPR (heat) and the FEC (electricity) are provided by the sun, captured using a solar concentrator (SC) tube array and a photovoltaic (PV) cell, respectively. Beijing Origin Water Technology has provided the reforming system which will be used to treat biomass.

Benefit
Using biomass as a hydrogen source in the flow electrolyser cell has energy and economic advantages. Pre-conditioned biomass (from a raw biomass stream) can be provided at a very low cost. Electrocatalytic hydrogen extraction from the pre-conditioned biomass is generally easier than water electrolysis (i.e. water splitting). Biomass reforming by electrocatalysis is selective and scalable, delivers zero carbon dioxide emissions and can produce value-added organic products which can potentially serve as precursors for plastics fabrication. Development of this technology will help contribute towards Australia becoming more competitive in generating and exporting renewable hydrogen and hydrogen-carriers.

Area of innovation
• The coupling the biomass pre-conditioning reactor together with the flow electrolyser cell enables waste biomass to be converted into renewable hydrogen gas or a hydrogen-carrier for export. In addition, flow electrolyser cell’s effluent will contain valuable organic by-products which can partly off-set system costs.

• Using an electrocatalyst in conjunction with a radical mediator in the flow electrolyser cell this would reduce electrical energy demand and improve conversion. The radical mediator is an organic catalyst that is added to the flow electrolyser cell to assist with extracting hydrogen from the preconditioned biomass feed.

Summary

Extracting hydrogen from biomass represents a valuable approach by which a waste organic stream can be transformed into hydrogen (or hydrogen-carriers) for downstream use or as an exportable commodity. This project aims to develop a biomass reforming system capable of extracting hydrogen and/or hydrogen-carriers - such as bio-alcohols and bio-acids - from biomass. The biomass reforming system will comprise a biomass pre-conditioning reactor (BPR) coupled with a flow electrolyser cell (FEC) to produce renewable hydrogen without any carbon dioxide emissions.

 

How the project works

Biomass is fed into a biomass pre-conditioning reactor where it is transformed into bio-alcohol/bio-acid hydrogen-carrying compounds. The product stream is then passed into the flow electrolyser cell where the hydrogen is extracted and recovered. Energy requirements for the BPR (heat) and the FEC (electricity) are provided by the sun, captured using a solar concentrator (SC) tube array and a photovoltaic (PV) cell, respectively. Beijing Origin Water Technology has provided the reforming system which will be used to treat biomass.

 

Benefit

Using biomass as a hydrogen source in the flow electrolyser cell has energy and economic advantages. Pre-conditioned biomass (from a raw biomass stream) can be provided at a very low cost. Electrocatalytic hydrogen extraction from the pre-conditioned biomass is generally easier than water electrolysis (i.e. water splitting). Biomass reforming by electrocatalysis is selective and scalable, delivers zero carbon dioxide emissions and can produce value-added organic products which can potentially serve as precursors for plastics fabrication. Development of this technology will help contribute towards Australia becoming more competitive in generating and exporting renewable hydrogen and hydrogen-carriers.

 

Area of innovation

  • The coupling the biomass pre-conditioning reactor together with the flow electrolyser cell enables waste biomass to be converted into renewable hydrogen gas or a hydrogen-carrier for export. In addition, flow electrolyser cell’s effluent will contain valuable organic by-products which can partly off-set system costs.

 

  • Using an electrocatalyst in conjunction with a radical mediator in the flow electrolyser cell this would reduce electrical energy demand and improve conversion. The radical mediator is an organic catalyst that is added to the flow electrolyser cell to assist with extracting hydrogen from the preconditioned biomass feed.

Process overview of biomass reforming system

Funder: ARENA (2018 - 2022)

List of Investigators: A/Prof Jason Scott, A/Prof Dawei Wang, A/Prof Rob Taylor, Dr Kuang Hsu Wu, Dr Nick Bedford, A/Prof Yansong Shen, A/Prof Xiaojin Hao and Scientia Prof Rose Amal and Beijing Origin Water Technology and Apricus Energy Pty Ltd