CSM Wins Three-Year Program on Protonic Ceramics for Energy Storage

The Colorado School of Mines received a new award to develop their protonic-ceramic technology for electrochemical synthesis of ammonia for storage of renewable solar and wind energy. The project is entitled “Protonic Ceramics for Energy Storage and Electricity Generation with Ammonia,” the program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (DOE ARPA-E) as part of the REFUELS program: “Renewable Energy to Fuels Through Utilization of Energy-Dense Liquids”.

The program is led by FuelCell Energy (FCE – Danbury, CT), with Colorado School of Mines serving as subcontractor to FCE. Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Neal Sullivan serves as Primary Investigator on the program. Co-PIs include Professors Ryan O’Hayre of (Metallurgical and Materials Engineering), Robert J. Kee (Mechanical Engineering) and Jason Ganley (Chemical and Biological Engineering). Effort is distributed across two of CSM’s leading research centers: the Colorado Fuel Cell Center (CFCC) and the Colorado Center for Advanced Ceramics (CCAC).

In this program, a diverse team of engineers and scientists from FuelCell Energy (FCE) and Colorado School of Mines (CSM) have partnered to develop a protonic-ceramic electrolyzer that generates ammonia (NH3) from nitrogen and water to enable near-lossless storage of electricity. A schematic of the technology is shown in Figure 2. Our program integrates advanced materials research emerging from CSM with high-volume, low-cost ceramic manufacturing and system integration pioneered by FCE to create a robust chemical-production and energy-storage solution for renewable energy sources.

Key innovations in this proposal include:

  • Proton-conducting ceramic cells that directly synthesize ammonia for energy storage;
  • Integration of protonic-ceramic cells with advanced calcium-aluminate electride-based catalysts to increase ammonia-production rates by two orders of magnitude;
  • Scale-up from laboratory devices to commercially relevant, multi-cell stacks using state-of-the-art, pilot-scale manufacturing processes and equipment;
  • Detailed techno-economic analyses to identify the optimal system configurations and market opportunities that maximize the value proposition of the reversible NH3 system.

The program is motivated by the ever-increasing scale of renewable wind- and solar-energy sources. These sources of electricity are clearly beneficial to society, and are rapidly advancing in deployment. However, their intermittent nature presents significant challenges for meeting society’s practical demands. By storing this energy in the form of liquid fuels, such as ammonia, the full capacity of these renewable-energy producers can be realized. Our REFUELS program seeks to harness the promise of proton-conducting ceramics to utilize renewable electricity to synthesize ammonia, an energy-dense, carbon-neutral liquid fuel.

This effort is supported by Award Number DE-AR0000493, and spans 2017 – 2020. The Primary Investigator is Associate Professor Neal P. Sullivan of the Mechanical Engineering Department. Professor Ryan P. O’Hayre of the Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Department serves as Co-PI, along with Professor Robert J. Kee of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

You can read more about the ARPA-E REFUEL program here: https://arpa-e.energy.gov/?q=arpa-e-programs/refuel



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Last Updated: 08/14/2017 09:10:42