Researchers at the Graz University of Technology Have Successfully Produced High Purity Green H2 from Biogas

Researchers at the Graz University of Technology Have Successfully Produced High Purity Green H2 from Biogas

Green hydrogen now enjoys a lot of attention and there are huge investments currently underway to find ways of sustainably using it as a clean energy source. One of the major areas of focus now is on how to produce hydrogen using sources not directly linked to fossil fuels. Current sources of hydrogen are centred on raw fossil raw materials. Also, the production process is energy-intensive and relatively expensive. This implies that the large-scale production of hydrogen requires huge initial infrastructural investment.      

As part of the ongoing efforts to find sustainable and inexpensive ways of producing green H2, researchers at the Graz University of Technology under the stewardship of engineer Viktor Hacker started a project in 2020 that looks promising. The project’s main goal is to come up with ways of producing hydrogen using sustainable and eco-friendly processes. Since its onset, the project has come up with many award-winning technologies. Notable ones are projects that produce hydrogen from natural gas, biomass, and biogas.

In one that is possibly the world’s largest industrial hydrogen plant, engineer Hacker and his team are producing high-purity hydrogen from a biogas plant. They are using real biogas from an already existing plant to produce green H2. The project which is supported by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency is touted as a game-changer and might be a signal of a breakthrough in the quest to produce and use green H2.

“We seek to demonstrate that it is possible to integrate a chemical looping system into an already existing biogas plant and produce high-purity hydrogen even on an industrial scale…,” said Hacker in their recent report. This is, of course, an interesting discovery bearing in mind that using biogas to generate hydrogen is not only sustainable but is also less expensive compared to other options currently being used.

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Hacker’s technology has already been tested and, indeed, has been proven to be viable for both subsistence and commercial use. All that is required for the large-scale production of green hydrogen using this process is sufficient space for a biogas plant. With that, the technology can reliably produce green H2 for commercial use. The process is not only sustainable, but it also has a positive effect when it comes to the reduction of the purchase price of hydrogen.

As more efforts are put into the practical application of the technology in many areas, the focus now shifts into expanding the service life of some components of the reactors used in biogas plants. “My team is now focusing on…service life of the iron-based material used in the reactor…,” added Hacker. With these latest and interesting developments, the replacement of carbon-emitting energy sources with clean and sustainable green H2 might soon be a reality.

The idea that this technology has been proven to work is not, however, without challenges that need to be fixed first. For instance, for hydrogen to be used in cars, a 700 bar pressure is a requirement. According to Viktor Hacker, the process of compressing hydrogen to 700bar is a little bit tricky and also expensive. So, this again adds to the already high pump price. Until there is a technology that addresses this, the idea of hydrogen-powered vehicles remains a work in progress.

Other ongoing improvements and projects about hydrogen revolve around its transport after production. Some options under consideration include trials on whether filling hydrogen into cylinders for transportation would be viable. If the move is successful then that would be a major step forward.

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Overall, the successful production of hydrogen from biogas is a technology to watch. It is a positive gain from the many efforts and investments currently underway. It’s no doubt going to inspire the development of related innovations.

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