The first thermodynamically-reversible chemical reactor capable of producing hydrogen as a pure product stream represents a “transformational” step forward in the chemical industry, the authors of a new study claim.
The novel reactor, described today in the prestigious academic journal Nature Chemistry, avoids mixing reactant gases by transferring oxygen between reactant streams via a solid state oxygen reservoir.
This reservoir is designed to remain close to equilibrium with the reacting gas streams as they follow their reaction trajectory and thus retains a ‘chemical memory’ of the conditions to which it has been exposed.
The result is that hydrogen is produced as a pure product stream, removing the need for costly separation of the final products.
Led by Newcastle University, UK, the research involved experts from the universities of Durham and Edinburgh and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in France, and was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Professor Ian Metcalfe, lead author and Professor of Chemical Engineering at Newcastle University said:
“Chemical changes are usually performed via mixed reactions whereby multiple reactants are mixed together and heated. But this leads to losses, incomplete conversion of reactants and a final mixture of products that need to be separated.
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