Profs. Sullivan and O’Hayre Partner with BHP on Green Hydrogen Production
Professors Neal Sullivan and Ryan O’Hayre are working with the innovation team of BHP to advance green hydrogen production. Dr. Sullivan is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Director of the Colorado Fuel Cell Center (CFCC). Dr. O’Hayre is a Professor of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, and a member of Mines’ Colorado Center for Advanced Ceramics (CCAC). BHP is supporting the research in their role as an Founding Member to Mines’ newly formed Global Energy Futures Initiative (GEFI).
In this research program, Profs. Sullivan and O’Hayre draw on the rich equipment base of the CFCC and CCAC research centers to develop high-efficiency, high-temperature electrolyzers based on proton-conducting ceramics. The materials are an emerging class of electroceramics for which Mines faculty have become the nation’s leaders. These materials enable high-efficiency conversion of electric power and water feedstocks into high-pressure, dry hydrogen. The technology targets applications for storage of intermittent renewable electricity, as illustrated in Figure 1. External power is used to split H2O fed to the steam electrode into protons (H+) and molecular oxygen (O2). The external power drives protons across the electrolyte to the interior of the tube, where they recombine to form molecular hydrogen. The technology can be adapted to convert CO2 into higher-value chemicals, and reflects BHP’s commitment to sustainability in the extractive industries. Funding supports Ph.D. student Peter Rand and undergraduate student Tyler Burt, both of the Mechanical Engineering Department.