Billions of tons of carbon dioxide are let loose into the Earth’s atmosphere every year from facilities that produce hydrogen by burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas. Without redress, greenhouse gas emissions from current hydrogen production will continue to hinder efforts to combat climate change.
This Newton-funded project uses waste hydrogen from existing industrial processes and recycles it for the food, chemical and petrochemical industries. The team has built a relatively inexpensive electrochemical compressor, which can purify and store unused hydrogen generated during the production of chlorine and sodium hydroxide. These are two important chemicals used by various industries for the creation of cement and concrete, water treatment, soap making and even food preparation.
The electrochemical compressor can reach 50 atmospheres of pressure in a few minutes, equivalent to a column of water the height of the Empire State Building. This is achieved while producing 99.999 percent pure hydrogen, which is immediately useful to industry for zero-emission fuel cells, among other applications.
As well as giving undergraduates and postgraduates the opportunity for hands-on training with this new technology, the UK-Mexico team hopes to play their part in Mexico’s bright future as a producer of clean hydrogen. The introduction of new hydrogen technologies to Mexico and Central America could create new technology companies and jobs in sustainable and modern hydrogen energy.
"Working in collaboration with the University of Southampton has been highly beneficial for the consortium as a whole; they have provided their expertise and state of the art resources and we have built relationships with institutions and businesses in Mexico, providing commercial and educational opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have been available to us."
Dr Nick van Dijk, COO PV3 Technologies
Renewable energy source based on the recovery, purification and storage of hydrogen from chlor-alkali plants
Project leads: Dr David Hodgson, PV3 Technologies and Dr Abraham Ulises Chávez Ramírez, Researcher, Center of Research and Technological Development in Electrochemistry (CIDETEQ)
Delivery partners: Innovate UK and National Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT)