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H2, CO2 and Renewable Energy in the context of Chemicals, Fuels and Feedstocks

Date: Mon 23 Nov 2015, 11:00 - 12:00

Location: Nanoforce seminar room, Joseph Priestley Building

Speaker: Dr Robin J White, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Germany

One mechanism to store intermittent renewable electricity and provide an opportunity to equilibrate grid supply and demand is to convert it to chemical energy, in the form of either a gaseous (Power-to-Gas; PtG) or liquid (Power-to-Liquid; PtL) storage molecule such that electrical energy is stored in the form of chemical bonds. If this is conducted in such a manner that the product is appropriate for chemical upgrading to other products, renewable electrical energy has the potential to play a significant role in the provision of feedstocks to the chemical industry. In this context, PtG schemes based on water splitting (e.g. via electrolysis) to H2 and its chemical reaction with CO2 to produce liquid compounds (PtL) such as methanol or dimethyl ether are of significant interest.1 The PtG and PtL approaches are currently being investigated and evaluated at all points in the process chain by the Hydrogen Technologies (H2T) Division at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE (Scheme 1).2 One of the efficiency determining steps in the PtL process scheme, as a consequence of energetics and molecular bonding, is the catalysed hydrogenation of H2 with CO2.3 This reaction is currently receiving renewed interest as a consequence of its potential to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, provide sustainable liquids fuels, which in turn can act as renewable energy carriers.4 Complimentary to the hydrogenation of CO2, the use of H2 in the catalytic conversion of biomass (and associated residues) is also receiving significant interest.5 The development of such production pathways in combination with PtG schemes enables the establishment of “Power-to-X” (PtX) schemes, where X = renewable chemicals, fuels, intermediates and feedstocks. Analogously to PtL, this represents a significant chemical challenge (e.g. the conversion of large/polar biomolecules in the aqueous phase). The presentation will focus predominantly on the latest R&D work of the H2T Division at the Fraunhofer ISE, with regard to the utilisation of renewable H2 in the context of energy, mobility, fuels and chemical production.


1 R. J. White, “The Sustainable Synthesis of Methanol - Renewable Energy, Carbon Dioxide and an Anthropogenic Carbon Cycle”, in “Chemical Processes for a Sustainable Future”, 2015, Ch. 8, p. 195, Editors: T. M. Letcher, J. L. Scott, D. Patterson, Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK.
2 A. Schaadt, M. Ouda, T. Aicher, I. Krossing, “Das Power-to-Liquid-Konzept am Beispiel von Methanol”, Chem. Ing. Technik, 2014, 86, 1433.
3 F. Studt, M. Behrens, E. L. Kunkes, N. Thomas, S. Zander, A. Tarasov, J. Schumann, E. Frei, J. B. Varley, F. Abild-Pedersen, J. K. Nørskov, R. Schlögl, “The Mechanism of CO and CO2 Hydrogenation to Methanol over Cu-Based Catalysts”, ChemCatChem, 2015, 7, 1105.
4 G. Centi, E. A. Quadrelli, S. Perathoner, “Catalysis for CO2 conversion: a key technology for rapid introduction of renewable energy in the value chain of chemical industries”, Energy Environ. Sci., 2013, 6, 1711.
5 M. Besson, P. Gallezot, C. Pinel, “Conversion of Biomass into Chemicals over Metal Catalysts”, Chem. Rev., 2014, 144, 3, 1827.

Contact:Prof Magdalena Titirici