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Greener hydrogen production from high moisture containing biomass

   School of Science & Technology

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  Dr Wenbin Zhang  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Hydrogen energy, one of the cleanest energy sources, is being developed in advanced industrialized countries around the world as a substitute for fossil fuels. Green hydrogen production is still as its early stage due to the fact that the electricity used for electrolysis of water has to be generated by using renewable energy sources such as wind or solar. This project aims to develop an innovative technology by using the biomass as a sustainable energy source. This technology enables carbon capture process to be integrated which makes the whole process carbon-negative and the hydrogen production even “greener” than the traditional measures by electrolysis. 

The proposed technology makes use of high moisture containing biomass which is very challenging to be dealt with using conventional thermochemical pathways as drying of such biomass is much energy intensive making the thermal efficiency too low to be commercialized. The project aims to develop a highly efficient and sustainable route to treat the high moisture content biomass applying a unique and advanced hydrothermal gasification/combustion technology. The proposed technology uses water as the reactant therefore no drying of feedstock is needed. The hydrothermal reactor can be connected to a Micro-Turbine to provide decentralized electricity, as well as providing heat. The whole process produces readily high concentration of hydrogen and high purity water. The final flue gas contains nearly pure CO2 that is much easier to be captured or utilized. With carbon capture in place, this process provides a truly Negative CO2 emission solution that can produce “Greener” hydrogen. 

A comprehensive process model is to be developed by using specialized software to evaluate the mass/energy balance and thermal performance of the proposed system integration. Several biomass wastes including biomass residues from a vertical farm company, animal mature from local farms, marine based biomass such as seaweed and sludges from selected industries will be characterised in the laboratory. A lab scale hydrothermal processor is to be designed, manufactured and tested by using the characterised samples. Operation conditions need to be optimized for an efficient hydrogen production. The ultimate goal of the project will be a validated waste-to-hydrogen system supported by process modelling, experimental study and techno-economic analysis. 

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