Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies

Scientists and engineers working together for a sustainable future

Tagged: Hydrogen

Team Hydrogen goes to Florida

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📥  Seminars & Conferences

Students from the University of Bath’s Mays and Ting groups, colloquially known as ‘Team Hydrogen’, recently attended the 7th International Workshop on Characterization of Porous Materials in Florida. CSCT students Leighton Holyfield and Jemma Rowlandson presented their work to leading porous materials scientists from around the world. This post was contributed by Leighton. 

leighton-team-hydrogenHundreds of the world’s finest porous materials scientists descended upon the warm and sunny climes of southern Florida for the Characterization of Porous Materials Workshop. The conference, held over four days, saw 46 oral and 84 poster presentations made, spanning a wide variety of concepts within porous materials science, from detailed analyses on whether current adsorption protocol is correct, to the synthesis of new materials such as MOFs and activated carbons, to new applications for standard materials. Certainly, there was a wealth of knowledge and experience, and being able to be a part of it was quite the experience.

Following an enjoyable first day in which registration and an evening gala were the only arranged affairs (allowing for enjoyment of the Florida sunshine and the Marriott hotel’s pool!), the science started on Day 2. Following an introduction from Alexander Neimark, the conference organiser, Bernt Smarsly gave a fascinating insight into the use of SAXS/SANS for the characterisation of micropores, and the conference was underway.

Talks of particular interest on day 2 were those of Jean Rouquerol, who discussed whether the accepted science of the ‘Gibbs excess amount’ is applied correctly, Phil Llewelyn, who compared MOFs for CO2 storage and developed metrics based on the results and Daniel Siderius, who presented the ever-evolving NIST database of known adsorbents.

Day 2 was finished with an evening poster session, in which both Jemma and I presented the findings from our MRes projects in our first year. Unfortunately, this was the only time dedicated to poster presentation, as it would have been nice to have more time to discuss our findings with the other attendees.

Also of great interest were the final three talks of day 4. These were given by Bath’s own Valeska Ting on Team Hydrogen’s work on hydrogen adsorption in activated carbons (particularly some neutron scattering work that appears to show hydrogen at solid-like densities in the adsorbed phase), and Bogdan Kuchta, who gave a general overview of hydrogen storage in microporous materials. The last lecture of the conference was given by Peter Pfeiffer, who gave a very interesting lecture on new activated carbons and hydrogen storage within these, showing storage densities in the adsorbed monolayer above that of liquid hydrogen.

After the closing of the conference, there was a tour of the Quantachrome facility up the road in Baton Rouge, and the evening was closed out with a boat trip, cruising up and down the Gulf Stream river to see all the multi-million dollar homes!

Ultimately, CPM-7 was a thoroughly worthwhile trip, as we learnt a lot, made new contacts for potential future collaborations, and had the opportunity to present our work to some of the leading porous materials scientists in the world. We came home eager to crack on with our work and await the next opportunity!

Leighton is currently in his second year of PhD working on designing safe hybrid hydrogen storage tanks with Dr Tim Mays and Dr Andrew Burrows


Could hydrogen be the answer?


📥  Events, Prizes & awards, Research updates

Second year CSCT student, Jemma Rowlandson, writes about her research topic of materials for hydrogen storage. Jemma recently won the regional finals of the Institution of Engineering and Technology's Present Around the World Competition and won a prize of £300 and a place at the national finals.

One of the greatest challenges faced by our generation is global warming. As global temperatures continue to rise, this will lead to severe and potentially irreversible climate change. The big question is, how do we stop it?

team-hydrogen1Transport accounts for a quarter of domestic carbon dioxide emissions in the UK. Not only this, but vehicles produce particles which lower the air quality and can be harmful. This is why a lot of research in the CSCT and elsewhere focuses on replacing diesel and petrol cars. One potential technology we could use is hydrogen.

Hydrogen is the most lightweight and abundant element in the universe, and it could be the answer to a lot of our problems. Hydrogen is used as rocket fuel, and with good reason; it has a very high energy density, meaning you need to use a lot less of it in comparison to petrol or diesel. Not only this, but hydrogen has the amazing potential to be completely green. This is because you can make hydrogen by splitting water, use that hydrogen to power your car, and out of the exhaust comes only water!

Although this seems like a perfect solution, there are a couple of very big problems associated with hydrogen technology. One of the most critical is that hydrogen is a gas and so very difficult to store, because it takes up a lot space. To store 4 kg of hydrogen at room temperature and atmospheric pressure (enough to get you from Manchester to London) you would need to attach about 600 party balloons full of flammable hydrogen gas to your car. Not a great idea.

So what can we do instead? Well the best way at the moment is to compress the hydrogen into a gas cylinder, at either 350 or 700 times atmospheric pressure. This in turn comes with its own problems. For a start not everyone is entirely comfortable sitting above a highly pressurised flammable hydrogen gas cylinder. The other is that this is actually very expensive! You’ve not only got the energy cost of compressing the gas, but also the cost of the cylinder itself which has to be able to withstand a car crash. If we ever want to see mass market hydrogen cars we need to drop the price of this fuel tank.

There are many different approaches to hydrogen storage; the one focused on at Bath is to use a nanoporous material. There are lots of materials to choose from but they all work in pretty much the same way, using a process called adsorption. Now this is different to absorption, which is the process of taking something in (like a sponge absorbs water). Adsorption by contrast is when something sticks or ‘adsorbs’ onto a surface. For hydrogen storage this means the hydrogen gas molecules stick to the surface of the material, packing closely together and increasing your hydrogen storage capacity. If you put this material inside a gas cylinder you could store the same amount of hydrogen but at a lower pressure, making it both safer and cheaper.


Related Post:
Jemma Rowlandson wins the local round of the IET PATW


Conference Report: The H2FC SUPERGEN Hydrogen Researcher Conference 2013

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📥  Seminars & Conferences

In December 2013, CSCT students Jemma Rowlandson and Leighton Holyfield (cohort 5) and Jess Sharpe (cohort 2) attended the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell (H2FC) SUPERGEN Researcher Conference. This report comes from Jemma.

The H2FC SUPERGEN Hydrogen Researcher Conference took place from 16th-18th December at the University of Birmingham. The Bath Hydrogen Team was in attendance, including Dr Tim Mays and his group: DTC students Leighton Holyfield and Jess Sharpe (both co-supervised by Dr Andy Burrows), post-doc Nuno Bimbo and PhD student Antonio Noguera Díaz. The other half of Team Hydrogen comprised of Dr Valeska Ting, her PhD student Andrew Physick and myself: DTC first year Jemma Rowlandson (co-supervised by Professor Steve Parker). The H2FC SUPERGEN conference is primarily aimed at providing PhD students and early career researchers an opportunity to present their work. The talks and poster sessions covered all aspects of hydrogen research from solid oxide and PEM fuels cells to hydrogen separation, storage and production.

Team Hydrogen at the H2FC SUPERGEN Conference

Team Hydrogen at the H2FC SUPERGEN Conference

The conference kicked off with an excellent introduction by Professor Nigel Brandon of Imperial College London,  who gave an overview of the use of hydrogen and fuel cells in low carbon energy systems. Other keynote speakers included several industrial experts including a memorable talk by Ceres Power. Ceres developed a unique solid oxide fuel cell designed to operate at far lower temperatures of 500-600°C, with an ingenious steel cell design which reduced costs and made for a relatively straightforward fuel cell stack manufacturing process.

Unusually, but importantly, the conference included an interactive panel discussion of early career researchers, including Bath’s very own Prize Fellow in Smart Nanomaterials Valeska Ting. The panellists shared their career journey so far, gave recommendations and answered any questions from PhDs and post-doctoral researchers interested in an academic career.

A special mention should go to DTC fourth-year student Jess Sharpe, who gave an exceptional presentation on ‘Modelling hydrogen storage in nanoporous materials for use in aviation’. Considering not everyone is comfortable with computational chemistry she managed to captivate the audience and presented her research in a clear and succinct way. The final presentation from Dr Kerry-Ann Adamson of Navigant Research certainly made for a memorable end to the conference. The presentation focused on bringing the hydrogen industry forwards away from predictions of a hydrogen economy in ten years time, because consumers are ready to invest in hydrogen technology right now.