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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S001891/1
Title: Efficient low carbon energy storage and conversion on exsolved interfaces
Principal Investigator: Yue, Dr X
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
European Marine Energy Centre Haldor Topsoe A/S Hexis AG
Low Emissions Research Corporation LLC Scottish Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Asso SHFCA
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of St Andrews
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship - NHFP
Starts: 25 June 2018 Ends: 24 June 2021 Value (£): 516,488
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Carbon Capture & Storage Catalysis & Applied Catalysis
Fuel Cell Technologies
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
10 May 2018 EPSRC UKRI CL Innovation Fellowship Interview Panel 9 - 10 and 11 May 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Global warming due to excessive CO2 emissions and fossil fuel depletion have urged the development of clean and cheap energy technologies to satisfy the ever-increasing energy demand and net reduction in CO2 emissions. Strategies to utilise CO2 captured from sources such as fossil fuel-based power stations are urgently required to mitigate climate changes. Renewable energy production is likely to be the cleanest method of producing electricity. However, renewable electricity generation through the use of solar, wind or tidal energy transfer is notoriously intermittent and can be inefficient on overcast, still days and non-existent between tides during still days. Developing technologies that are composed of diverse energy sectors including renewables, fuel cells and electrolysis cells is thus vital to fulfil efficient and flexible low carbon energy storage and conversion.

This project will seek to explore and develop the recently discovered materials in diverse electrochemical devices for efficient energy storage and conversion. This include converting CO2 into value added fuels and producing electricity using practical hydrocarbons or biogas. The CO2-derived fuels can be regarded as a storage medium for excess renewable electricity supply, when excess renewable electricity is used to drive the CO2 conversion. These fuels have high energy density, are easy to store and transport, and are compatible with the existing fossil fuel infrastructure that hydrogen (H2) fuels are incompatible with. Additionally, the CO2-derived fuels can in turn be used to generate electricity when the renewables are "down", allowing extra fuelling to the system. The CO2 conversion device proposed can split steam and CO2 in the same flow, producing syngas (CO and H2) which is the feedstock for industrial synthetic fuel production. Further, the same device can reversibly work as a fuel cell to generate electricity. The materials used in these devices are critical to their output. Conventional fuel electrode materials (a mixture of nickel (Ni) and zirconia) have limitations due to their poor stability and durability under realistic fuel environments. Materials development in recent years has been focusing on alternative oxides preferably with the active components at nanoscale to maximise activity. The most exciting recent discovery is a group of titanate perovskites (with a formula ABO3), where their B-site metal, e.g. Ni, can move out of the perovskite lattice as the ambient conditions change. This exsolution of catalysts (metal, alloy, oxide) from the host lattice upon reduction can be used to decorate the electrode surface with nanoparticles offering high catalytic activity. Further, the exsolved nanoparticles are anchored to the surface of the parent perovskite, which makes them considerably more stable than catalysts added by conventional means. Nevertheless, the research on these materials in real electrochemical devices so far has been very limited.

The project will seek to deliver exsolution materials processing approach for CO2 conversion to maximise performance. The methodologies to drive exsolution of nanocatalysts during CO2 electrolysis operations will be developed. Conversion of steam and CO2 in the same flow will be also investigated using these materials, with specific focus on generating products with desirable CO/H2 ratios for industrial fuels synthesis. Finally, switching the electrolyser to fuel cell using realistic hydrocarbons or biogas fuel will be conducted, aiming to advance the development of a low carbon electricity generation system with significant robustness and cost-competitiveness. The overall objective is to develop and demonstrate a novel, efficient, flexible and robust technology as one that can realise both the fuel production through CO2 conversion and low carbon electricity generation, to help addressing utilisation of sustainable renewable energy and CO2 recycling for fuel production and climate mitigation.

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Organisation Website: http://www.st-and.ac.uk