Scientists from the Competence Center of the National Technological Initiative “Hydrogen as the basis of a low-carbon economy” have made significant progress in developing catalysts that enhance the production of synthesis gas, a hydrogen-containing raw material.
This breakthrough could lead to more stable electricity generation in fuel cells while reducing energy costs. The utilization of synthesis gas offers advantages over pure hydrogen, including a well-established gas pipeline infrastructure in Russia.
The researchers have successfully developed a structured heat-conducting catalyst based on a fechral mesh and platinum. This catalyst demonstrates high stability and activity during the synthesis gas production process. By optimizing heat distribution in the reactor, the catalyst ensures a more homogeneous composition of synthesis gas, minimizing the formation of undesirable by-products.
One of the major advantages of synthesis gas is its compatibility with the extensive network of gas pipelines in Russia, with a total length of 179,000 km. This eliminates the need for separate hydrogen pipelines, which are currently limited to only 4-5,000 km worldwide. Leveraging the existing infrastructure simplifies the logistics and distribution of synthesis gas, making it an attractive alternative for hydrogen-based energy systems.
The scientists focused on the autothermal reforming of methane, a process involving the reaction of methane with steam and oxygen in the presence of a catalyst. This method generates synthesis gas at a temperature range of 700-800°C. The development of a thermally conductive catalyst enables efficient heat transfer throughout the reaction zone, improving overall reaction efficiency and stability.
Synthesis gas produced using this technology can be utilized in fuel cells, specifically solid oxide fuel cells, for electricity generation. The hydrogen and carbon monoxide present in synthesis gas react with oxygen ions within the fuel cell, resulting in the release of electrical energy. This opens up opportunities for the deployment of syngas fuel cells in mobile and local power stations located near existing gas pipelines.
The researchers aim to scale up the technology to create larger reactors for synthesis gas production. By expanding the production capacity, the utilization of synthesis gas can be extended to various industries and applications. The advancements in catalyst technology offer promising prospects for the efficient and widespread adoption of hydrogen-containing fuels.