Gas processing is a wide field with many application. FcLab is active on three main threads, namely reforming, adsorptive and carbon capture processes. Reforming a and adsorptive clean-up are often symbiotic with the investigation on fuel cells, being these technologies part of a fuel cell system. However, they exhibit a high interdisciplinary character and can be applied in other industrial fields. Moreover, catalytic and adsoptive processes embed a CC function.
The research is currently investigating new catalysts to obtain high methane conversion rates and stable working conditions over time at lower temperatures (700-800°C), with the aim to couple a dry reformer to high-temperature fuel cell systems and to have access to a wider range of more common and less expensive materials for the components of the plant.
SORPTION ENHANCED STEAM REFORMING – Sorption enhanced steam methane reforming is an evolution of the well-known process of steam reforming that allows the generation of a hydrogen-rich syngas. The peculiar change in the system is the introduction of a CO2 sorbent material that absorbs part of the CO2 produced by the reforming process, thus shifting the chemical equilibrium towards the products. This allows to lower the process temperatures of SMR reaction and obtain the same value of methane conversion, overcoming the thermodynamical limit of the equilibrium reaction. The captured CO2 is then released in the regeneration phase of the sorbent and can be used for other processes or sequestered in tanks, avoiding its emission in the atmosphere.
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Experimental activities regard pollutants removal through adsorption processes, testing different commercial and innovative materials as activated carbons, zeolites and metal oxides. Experimental trials are carried out in a fixed bed reactor and allow finding sorbents adsorption capacity varying the operative conditions of the system: space velocity, reactor temperature, filter geometry, humidity content, gas composition and pollutants concentration. New materials as Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) and biochar materials residual of gasification plants are currently under investigation.[/expander_maker]
Carbon Capture and Storage – CCS
In the energy sector it is possible to reduce CO2 emissions by three main strategies:
- Improvement of the energy conversion efficiency of the power generation systems
- Increase the energy production from renewable energy sources
- Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) from power generation technologies.
MCFC (Molten carbonate fuel cells) are a natural CO2 separation system because carbon dioxide is transported from the cathodic to the anodic side by its oxidation and the CO3= ion transit through the electrolyte. Supplying their cathode with a power plant exhaust gas, MCFCs separate CO2 by concentrating it in the anodic off-gas. MCFCs may operate as CO2 separators and concentrators while generating electric power, being thus a very interesting candidate to be used as carbon capture systems in fossil fired power plants.
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