New electrochemical pump method enhances hydrogen purificationDiana Aoun | September 10, 2022
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.
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.