Fuel cell system converts atmospheric CO2 into usable electric current The engineer

Korean and American engineers design sodium-carbon dioxide hybrid fuel cell that removes carbon dioxide and produces electricity and hydrogen

The technology, developed by Professor Guntae Kim of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in collaboration with materials scientists and engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, depends on a well-understood phenomenon: dissolution of carbon dioxide in water to produce an acidic solution, which occurs in nature when carbon dioxide dissolves in the oceans.

Schematic illustration of the Na-CO2 hybrid system and its reaction mechanism. Image: UNIST

Professor Kim and his team realized that it could be used to induce an electrochemical reaction. Creating an acidic solution increases the number of protons in the water, each of which can attract an electron, implying that a battery system can be created.

“Carbon capture, use and sequestration (CCUS) technologies have recently received a lot of attention to provide a pathway to deal with global climate change,” said Professor Kim. “The key to this technology is the easy conversion of chemically stable CO2 molecules to other materials. He adds: “Our new system has solved this problem with CO2 dissolution mechanism.

The fuel cell system consists of a sodium metal anode immersed in an organic electrolyte, a separation membrane made of a sodium superionic conductive ceramic (NASICON) and a catalytic cathode (the researchers have used platinum) in an aqueous electrolyte, which could be distilled from water, seawater or sodium hydroxide solution. Researchers explain in iScience how injecting carbon monoxide into water triggers a reaction, with hydrogen gas released at the cathode – which can then be used in conventional fuel cells – and current flowing in an external circuit. The sodium ions are released from the anode, pass through the membrane and recombine with the hydrogen carbonate ions formed by the dissolution of carbon dioxide. In the current form of the system, the conversion efficiency of CO2 is 50 percent

The “hybrid Na-CO2 cell ”continues to produce electricity and hydrogen and does not regenerate carbon dioxide while charging, according to the team. The system has been tested for over a thousand hours without damaging the electrodes. “This Na-CO hybrid2the cell, which adopts efficient CCUS technologies, not only uses CO2 as a resource to generate electric power, but also produces a clean energy source, hydrogen, ”said Jeongwon Kim, electrical engineer at Unist and co-lead author of the research.

“This research will lead to more derivative research and will be able to produce H2 and electricity more efficiently when electrolytes, separator, system design, and electrocatalysts are improved.


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Maude J. Weber

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