Elucidation of membrane interface chemistry for electro-chemical processes

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Chem Eng and Analytical Science

Abstract

Fuel cells have been promoted as a pollution free alternative for energy generation. However, there are several constraints, based around the materials used, which have limited the implementation of this technology. This proposal provides the understanding of the chemical processes occurring in the materials and at the interfaces between the materials which drive the technology and the changes this chemistry causes to the materials. This will enable the design of fuel cell systems and choice of materials to mitigate these changes which reduce performance.
The electro-chemical processes which occur in fuel cells (both high and low temperature systems) are not unique to this technology and to demonstrate the efficacy of the study across all temperature ranges (from room temperature to 1200oC) we will also look at the separation of CO2 using dual phase membranes. While still an emerging technology, these membranes encounter similar problems to fuel cells and are extremely exciting as potential short term solutions for existing energy generation systems where CO2 is generated.
Several extremely powerful, cutting edge, analytical techniques are available which when applied in real time will allow the observation of the chemistry at atomic level. As a consequence the changes caused by operation of the system can be identified and explained. This project couples the application of existing state-of-the-art techniques with the development of these techniques where necessary to allow researchers to follow the changes as the chemical transformation of fuels into power, or CO2 separation, occur.
The potential benefit of this work is that the route to market for all three technologies will be enhanced by a deeper understanding of the chemistry. Hence, the environmental potential of the adoption of these systems will be realised. In addition, the ability to follow processes within working systems will be of great interest to the scientific community working in parallel disciplines such as the design of barriers to prevent corrosion.

Planned Impact

The environmental and societal impacts of energy generation using sustainable sources cannot be overstated and have received national and global exposure. Fuel cells comprise a significant component in many strategies to combat climate change. However, the immediacy of energy generation requirements mean that CO2 separation is also vital for existing technologies.
The problems around route to market for fuel cells relate to lifetime and cost which are both linked to the materials used in the systems and how they change with time. The same applies to dual phase membranes for CO2 removal but this technology is still in its infancy.
In this work we will generate a mechanistic understanding of the material changes which cause the loss of performance which is the main barrier to commercially viable systems.
These impacts will be felt ultimately by society due to the greater uptake of the 'hydrogen' economy and in the short term reducing CO2 emissions, and hence benefit to the environment and quality of life. In addition, companies who manufacture the technology and components for the systems will have greater marketability for their products. End users such as renewable energy generation companies and automobile manufacturers will have a more efficient and cost effective product to incorporate into their systems.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have developed entirely new and cost-effective membranes for a variety of carbon dioxide separation processes, of relevance for climate change mitigation. These are very early stage "proof-of-concept" results, but provide the kind of blue skies research we need to maintain a strong research base in the UK.
Work on the deactivation of high temperature PEM Membranes is on-going but the location/movement of species is clearly important.
Exploitation Route Experimental results may be fed into process modelling to develop new carbon dioxide separation approaches. Proof-of-concept results may be picked up by other research groups or companies to develop further and increase TRL.
The PEM membrane work may develop into new formulations and/or membrane configurations.
Sectors Energy

 
Description The groups at all three institutions are very active in disemination and outreach to compliment the academic Impacts: At Manchester, Sarah Haigh gave a talk as part of Women in Graphene Career Development Day in February 2019, Stuart Holmes gave a Café Scientifique lecture in April 2017 Sarah Haigh was filmed for a BBC documentary called 'Inside the Factory' in July 2018. Maria Perez Page, a PDRA on the project has obtained a lectureship at Manchester. At Newcastle, work is included in the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/AppIonTransport/. Greg Mutch started a video interview series with group members about their research (Nov 2018) posted on Facebook and LinkedIn as part of "LiveInTheLab" and is giving public talks at Station House, Durham and Town Mouse, Newcastle as part of his "Questions & Ale" series in spring/summer 2019. Members of IM's team hosted a membranes stand at the EPSRC "Science for a Successful Nation" showcase event in Feb 2018. Greg Mutch has gone from PDRA to holding two fellowships (Newcastle Academic Track and RAEng) and now a WP leader on an EPSRC Programme Grant.At UCL, work is highlighted at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucell and https://ucellucl.com/. The UCell team have demonstrated their operating PEMFC stack and discussed polymer electrolyte membranes with Master's students on the Electrochemical Engineering and Power Systems course at UCL over the last 3 years (March 2017/18/19), this year also displaying the EIL's new Toyota Mirai. The UCell team attended the Manchester Science Festival in October 2018 demonstrating off-grid electricity generation by powering a thermal camera and interacting with the general public. Both UCell and PPL PWR took part in It's All Academic Festival in September 2018, the former displaying the stack and small FCEV demo kits and the latter included a talk about the hydrogen economy, including material about PEMFCs, SOFCs and CCS technologies. Both UCell and PPL PWR put on stalls in Einstein's Garden at Green Man Festival in August 2018 The UCell team ran a stand at a BEIS event at the Royal Society in July 2018, engaging with young scientists and inspiring new engineers. A list of other events: The Calthorpe Project workshop on PEM & Alkaline electrolysers for solar generation of H2 (June 2018) International Women in Engineering Day speed networking event with girls aged 16-18 (June 2018) Elutec Technical College visit promoting STEM careers (October 2017) Brainchild Festival promoting sustainable technologies with an arts-orientated audience (July 2017)
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Education,Energy
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Member of Northumberland County Council Emissions Capture & Land Management Thematic Group as Carbon Capture Expert
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact Working group developing decarbonisation policy for Northumberland. Ongoing so current impact limited at this time.
 
Description Membership of BEIS CCUS ECR Forum
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description Royal Society policy briefing document, "The potential and limitations of using carbon dioxide",
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL http://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/low-carbon-energy-programme/potential-limitations-car...
 
Description Royal Society policy briefing, "Options for producing low-carbon hydrogen at scale"
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
URL http://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/low-carbon-energy-programme/hydrogen-production/
 
Description CO2MeOH
Amount £115,000 (GBP)
Organisation Research Complex at Harwell 
Department UK Catalysis Hub
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2021 
End 06/2022
 
Description Characterising the Evolution of Molten-Salt Solid Interfaces in Supported Membranes for Carbon Dioxide Separation
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 2518228 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2021 
End 07/2024
 
Description HySMART
Amount £631,868 (GBP)
Funding ID 10004529 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2021 
End 03/2022
 
Description Newcastle University Academic Track (NUAcT) Fellowship
Amount £500,000 (GBP)
Organisation Newcastle University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2019 
End 10/2024
 
Description Research Fellowship Scheme
Amount £625,000 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Academy of Engineering 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2020 
End 07/2025
 
Description SynHiSel
Amount £7,328,274 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/V047078/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2021 
End 09/2026
 
Description Imperial - Newcastle 
Organisation Imperial College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Wide range of research activities, largely related to materials fabrication and testing.
Collaborator Contribution We have received various samples to study, as well as collaborated on computational modelling from two leading academics at Imperial.
Impact Currently writing up papers as a result of this research.
Start Year 2018
 
Description SINTEF - Newcastle 
Organisation SINTEF
Country Norway 
Sector Multiple 
PI Contribution Published a review article on a specific class of membrane as a result of industry-academia collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution Written material, literature review etc.
Impact https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2019/ta/c9ta01979k#!divAbstract Chemistry, materials science, chemical engineering, process engineering.
Start Year 2018
 
Description UCL X-ray micro-/nano-CT 
Organisation University College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provision of innovative membrane samples for investigation.
Collaborator Contribution New images of infiltration mechanism for silver within a ceramic membrane.
Impact Publication in Energy Environ. Sci., 2020, 13, 1766-1775. https://doi.org/10.1039/C9EE03497H
Start Year 2019
 
Description Zaragoza 
Organisation University of Zaragoza
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Permeation measurements (NCL) and characterisation of membranes (UCL).
Collaborator Contribution Supply of materials, fabrication procedures and membranes for testing and characterisation (Zaragoza).
Impact Publication as recorded elsewhere.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Galvani to Gigafactories 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact RIGB public lecture
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70KKvBc70Vw&t=195s
 
Description INSIGHTS Public Lectures 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Member of the grant (GM) is now an elected member of the Newcastle University INSIGHTS Public Lectures committee.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
URL https://www.ncl.ac.uk/events/public-lectures/
 
Description Interview for Manchester's Covid Catalysts Campaign 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Interviews with members of the university discussing the impact of the pandemic on researcher progress, students and the bp-ICAM
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihF7vQ9T9pQ
 
Description Interview for magazine article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was interviewed for an article on the shortage of carbon dioxide, to inform the teaching around energy issues in schools (Royal Society of Chemistry, Education in Chemistry magazine).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://edu.rsc.org/feature/whats-behind-the-co-shortage/4014754.article
 
Description Interview for magazine article (SCI) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact I was interviewed in relation to my expertise on carbon dioxide capture processes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.soci.org/chemistry-and-industry/cni-data/2021/10/capturing-carbon
 
Description Interviews and discussion with potential undergraduate students 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Each Department Open Day (~15 dates per year) involves visits for 60-100 school pupils who are potential or actual university applicants. Prof Haigh regularly interviews candidates for these events. In 2020/2021 these have been operating online.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020,2021
URL https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2021/09895/meng-materials-science-and-engin...
 
Description LiveInTheLab Youtube Channel 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Youtube channel doing lab tours and academic interviews.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
URL https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV6WhUq1ygqi0QKzetu8cJw
 
Description MRM Japan Conference: Understanding the interplay of electrode microstructure, crystallography and performance using advanced X-ray and correlative imaging methods 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact MRM Conference Japan
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://mrm2021.jmru.org/about
 
Description Podcast on energy sector 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I participated in a podcast discussion on the energy transition, as part of a COP26 podcast series
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cop26-special-the-future-of-energy-with-professor/id1566552072...
 
Description Public Knowledge 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Short public talk for a local pub engagement series on research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Royal Society of Chemistry IYPT Invited Public Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture as part of the Royal Society of Chemistry "In The Year of The Periodic Table" series.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.rsc.org/events/detail/40533/separation-of-carbon-dioxide-for-climate-change-mitigation
 
Description Stuart Holmes gave a café scientifique lecture in April 2017. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Café Scientifique presentation on Fuel Cells in Manchester.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Synergistic imaging of battery materials using laboratory and synchrotron X-ray microscopy: Seminar Oslo University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Seminar at Oslo University
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zeiss.no%2Fmicroscopy%2Flocal-...
 
Description The work is included in the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/AppIonTransport/ . 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Facebook engagement
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Understanding the interplay of electrode microstructure, crystallography and performance using advanced X-ray and correlative imaging methods: MRS 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk at MRS 2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.mrs.org/meetings-events/fall-meetings-exhibits/2021-mrs-fall-meeting
 
Description Workis highlighted at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucell . 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucell .
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
URL http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucell
 
Description art exhibition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I helped to organise and host an art exhibition on the energy transition and its impacts on a local north east community/north east region
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/archive/2021/07/energies/
 
Description palace of science public talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact online public talk related to ccs
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://palaceofscience.co.uk/scrubbing-the-sky-reacting-to-the-carbon-dioxide-problem/
 
Description pint of science public talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact public talk on ccs for pint of science
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://pintofscience.co.uk/event/there-is-no-planet-b
 
Description science media centre press commentary 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact I provided expert commentary on carbon capture and energy transition issues for the media
https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-study-looking-at-carbon-capture-and-storage-and-climate-targets/
https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-the-governments-ten-point-plan-for-a-green-industrial-revolution/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-study-looking-at-carbon-capture-and-storage-an...