Hydrogen energyProject Waste Biomass to Renewable Hydrogen
This report describes progress to date in demonstrating, at a prototype scale, the production of hydrogen from waste biomass using solar thermal energy to reduce the amount of electricity required in the process.
The Project is focussed on establishing a tandem biomass reforming system capable of extracting hydrogen from biomass with only solar energy inputs. Biomass is the second most abundant resource on Earth that is rich in hydrogen. Utilising biomass as a H2 source in an electrolytic system has many advantages, from energy to economic perspectives. Biomass molecules, such as sugar- or fat-derived alcohols, can be produced at very low cost from raw biomass streams (e.g. sugars and vegetable oils in waste) and are more amenable to hydrogen extraction using an electrochemical system than the more traditional water electrolysis. H2 extraction from biomass by electrochemical means is selective and scalable, it delivers zero CO2 emissions and has the additional advantage of producing value- added carboxylic products which can potentially be used for plastics fabrication. The primary challenges associated with biomass electrolysis are: (1) poor catalyst H2 extraction ability in the biomass electrolyser; (2) the need for pre- conditioning of the raw biomass to produce bio-alcohol derivatives as a feed-stock; and (3) a lack of system integration, performance optimization and tools for process upscale.