New materials, processes for carbon capture may help in getting clean fuel 


A group of Indian scientists have computationally designed a hybrid material which can absorb greenhouse gas methane, converting it to clean hydrogen and also simulated a process of capturing carbon dioxide and converting it to high purity hydrogen.

The scientists from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad, have also designed a facility that can test such materials and help further carbon capture research at the institute, as per their latest research.

Given the global warming potential of greenhouse gases, scientists are exploring innovative methods of absorbing these gases and converting them to useful substances. New materials that can play a dual role of absorption, as well as conversion, is the new challenge area for scientists in carbon capture innovation.

In view of this challenge, IICT scientists, in a series of researches on carbon capture and utilisation, have not only computationally designed a hybrid material that can capture methane and act as catalyst to convert it to high purity hydrogen, but also simulated and designed a process for in situ capture of carbon dioxide and its conversion to high purity hydrogen from non-fuel grade bio-ethanol.

This was done through a mechanism called the optimised intensified chemical looping reforming, research published in the January 2022 issue of the Elsevier journal Chemical Engineering and Processing, available now for all, said.

The researchers have also fabricated a facility that can further carbon capture and conversion research at the institute. The facility, a dual operational fixed cum fluidised bed reactor system (FBR), can carry out sorption enhanced steam methane reforming (SESMR) for high purity H2 production based on the modeling and preliminary experimental studies.

The FBR facility was successfully commissioned in January 2022 at CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad, under a Mission Innovation Project supported by the Department of Science and Technology.

It is unique and available for the first time in the country to test the performance of dual functional materials for SESMR in fluidised bed reactor systems. SESMR offers specific advantages of in-situ CO2 removal through sorbents and thereby overcomes the equilibrium limitations of steam reforming and leads to high purity H2 production.

Potential dual functional materials identified from theoretical predictions are now being synthesised and simultaneously FBR operating conditions are being optimised for existing sorbent/catalyst materials for meeting increasing challenges of carbon capture and utilisation and associated research, the research published said.