The Aragon Hydrogen Foundation is participating in this initiative, which has a budget of nearly 6 million euros and brings together 12 academic and industrial partners from 6 countries.
The current need to decarbonize society and the different economic activities makes it necessary to implement new processes that allow this purpose to be carried out while guaranteeing the supply of raw materials to the different productive sectors. This is the case of industry, which requires chemical products and high value fuels such as methanol, which is produced from natural gas, with its consequent CO2 emissions.
There are, however, new production methods that use hydrogen and CO2 from other industrial processes, thus contributing to the reduction of emissions from these processes. If the production of this hydrogen is carried out through renewable sources, producing methanol could become completely sustainable. However, the low cost of obtaining hydrogen from hydrocarbons makes it the most common form today. Therefore, cost reduction in the manufacture of electrolysers without critical noble metals, which are very rare and expensive, would increase the competitiveness of hydrogen production by electrolysis, making it more attractive than other more contaminating methods.
This is precisely the field of work of the European project PROMET-H2 in which the Foundation for the Development of New Hydrogen Technologies in Aragon, based at the Walqa Technology Park in Huesca (Spain), has been participating since last April. The main objective of the PROMET-H2 project is to develop a polymer technology electrolyser – one of the most suitable for coupling this process to the production of renewable methanol – reducing its current cost and making it more sustainable and reliable. This means developing its main elements, including the pressurized proton exchange membrane (PEMWE), at a lower capital cost than that achieved to date – between 500 and 700 euros per kilowatt (kW) – without compromising its performance and durability, and replacing noble metals with others that are more benign from an environmental and economic point of view. The heart of this electrolyser, the stack, based on hydraulic compression technology, will contain these new membranes and improved electrodes, increasing competitiveness in equipment manufacturing costs and reducing dependence on metals whose availability is not unlimited.
In addition to testing the components in the laboratory, the project consortium, in which 12 research centres and companies from 6 countries are participating, will construct a 25 kW PEMWE electrolyser and a pilot plant for producing methanol from captured CO2 and hydrogen of renewable origin. In addition, it will design material recycling strategies and assess that the new device can be scaled to higher powers to meet the demands of large industrial methanol producing plants, thereby closing the entire value chain, from the synthesis of new materials to the generation of the renewable fuel.
PROMET-H2, which runs from April 2020 to March 2023, has a budget of 5.9 million euros, provided entirely by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 programme, in the area of Industrial Leadership, and specifically in the fields of advanced materials and nanotechnology. The project is coordinated by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and also involves 11 other partners from Spain (AGENCIA ESTATAL CONSEJO SUPERIOR DE INVESTIGACIONES CIENTÍFICAS -CSIC- and FUNDACIÓN HIDRÓGENO ARAGÓN), Italy (CONSIGLIO NAZIONALE DELLE RICERCHE), Germany (IGAS ENERGY GMBH, PROPULS GMBH, AIR LIQUID FORSCHUNG UND ENTWICKLUNG GMBH, CUTTING-EDGE NANOMATERIALS CENMAT UG HAFTUNGSBESCHRANKT AND FORSCHUNGSZENTRUM JULICH GMBH), Belgium (CHEMOURS BELGIUM), Greece (MONOLITHOS KATALITES KE ANAKIKLOSI ETAIREIA PERIORISMENIS EVTHINIS) and Norway (NEW NEL HYDROGEN AS)
More information about the project is available in this link.