Research activities on hydrogen are in full swing at Pennsylvania State University where a research team led by Chris Arges, associate professor of chemical engineering, demonstrated that the purification of hydrogen can be simplified using a pump equipped with high-temperature proton-selective polymer electrolyte membranes (PEM) and phosphonic acid ionomer electrode binder.

Processes that require purified hydrogen include refining metals, manufacturing fertilizers and powering fuel – to name a few. Purifying, or separating, that hydrogen from a mix of other gases can, however, be complex and expensive. That is why this research project being led by Arges is being closely watched.

Source: Penn StateSource: Penn State

According to the researchers, the electrochemical pump can separate hydrogen from the unwanted gases more effectively because it can work at temperatures of 200° C to 250° C (392° F to 482° F), which is about 20° C to 70° C higher than other high-temperature-PEM-type electrochemical pumps. The electrochemical hydrogen pump was used by the researchers to both separate and compress hydrogen with an 85% recovery rate from fuel gas mixtures known as syngas and 98.8% recovery rate from conventional water gas shift reactor exit stream.

Arges stated that, “This is an effective and potentially cost saving way to purify hydrogen, especially when there is a large carbon monoxide content...No one has ever purified hydrogen to this extent with a gas feed that contained more than 3% of carbon monoxide using an electrochemical hydrogen pump, and we achieved it with mixtures that consist of up to 40% carbon monoxide by using a relatively new class of high-temperature PEM and electrode ionomer binder materials.”

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy funded this work, which has potential widespread applications across various industries.

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