The Proton Flow Reactor System project aims to develop an integrated system for storage of electricity from renewable energy and export the stored energy as hydrogen within hydrogenated carbon-based material.
How the project works
A novel ‘proton flow reactor’ system for producing hydrogenated carbon(C)-based powder for bulk export will be developed. This reactor will use electricity from renewables to split water and charge a stream of C-particles with the protons produced. The stream of particles will flow through a negatively charged electrode to neutralise the protons as they are stored. Solid hydrogenated C-powder for storage and transport will then be generated. At the destination, the C-powder will be passed through an identical reactor operating in ‘fuel-cell’ mode to re-generate electricity.
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Area of innovation
This Proton Flow Reactor System will be a novel and scaled-up form of RMIT’s innovative proton battery − a reversible PEM fuel cell that reversibly stores protons in its solid electrode without forming hydrogen gas. The technical feasibility of a proton battery with an activated carbon electrode has recently been proven by the RMIT team. The proton flow reactor concept to be developed in this project has not so far been articulated publicly anywhere in the world. This reactor, and the C-powder for storage of atomic hydrogen, will both involve considerable technical innovation.
This system offers a zero-emission and environmentally-benign solution to production of exportable hydrogenated material from renewable energy and abundant carbon primary sources for conversion to electricity overseas. It may also store intermittent renewable energy on electricity grids at various scales. Potential energy densities are competitive with 700 bar compressed hydrogen gas, while avoiding the high cost and parasitic energy of the latter. The project will create the opportunity for patenting a proton flow reactor system, to attract industry partners for scale-up and commercialisation.
In recent weeks, the buzz around the potential for hydrogen to unlock opportunities to export renewable energy to the world has gone from a light murmur to a loud hum.Read more