(Invited) Role of Ion-Conducting Membranes in Synthesis and Use of Sustainable Fuels

Tuesday, 3 October 2017: 08:00
National Harbor 7 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
G. L. Soloveichik (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E))
Replacement of conventional catalytic technologies for synthesis of sustainable, carbon-neutral fuels with direct electrochemical synthesis has a potential for big energy savings due to reduction of number of process steps and pressure/temperature. In addition, electrochemical technologies are easily scaled down to allow for low capital, modular plants that match the scale of renewable energy production. The use of these fuels in electrochemical devices opens a path to cost-effective long-term energy storage and distributed energy generation. Development of low cost, ion-selective membranes with low area specific resistance is, along with electrocatalyst development, critical for the success of such technologies. Not less important is development of membrane manufacturing methods at a practical scale.

This presentation will review prospective technologies using ion-selective membranes for synthesis of carbon-neutral fuels for chemical energy storage and their use for generation of electricity (using fuel cells) and hydrogen. Advantages of electrochemical synthesis of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen or water compared to the conventional Haber-Bosch process will be discussed. Other processes include direct electrochemical synthesis of alcohols from CO2. The requirements to ion-selective membranes for these processes and fuel cells will be presented.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) funds high risk, high reward transformational research to reduce energy related emissions, reduce imports of energy from foreign sources, improve energy efficiency across all economic sectors, and ensure US technological lead in advanced energy technologies, including electrochemical energy storage and transformation for grid scale and automotive applications. The Renewable Electricity to Fuels through Utilization of Energy-dense Liquids (REFUEL) program funds the development of transformational technologies to reduce the barriers to widespread adoption of intermittent renewable energy sources by enabling the conversion of energy from these sources, water and air to energy-dense zero-carbon liquid fuels and their use for electricity or hydrogen generation. REFUEL projects targeting various ion conducting membranes as well as related projects supported by ARPA-E through OPEN program will be highlighted.