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Title: Electrochemical generation of hydrogen
Author: Syed Khurram, Raza
ISNI:       0000 0004 5994 2166
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2017
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Global warming and the energy crisis are two of the greatest challenges on which mankind is currently focused. This has forced governments and other organisations to think how to protect the environment and how to reduce fuel costs. A variety of new and exciting technologies are being investigated to address the energy problem. Alternative energy sources such as solar power, fuel cells, wind power and tidal waves are active areas of commercial and scientific pursuit. A major area of current research is moving towards the hydrogen economy and hydrogen based energy systems. Hydrogen can be produced in many ways, most commonly by steam reforming of hydrocarbon (70% to 85% thermal efficiency) but the downside is that it releases carbon mono oxide (CO)), compared with commercial PEM electrolysers where performance has been reported to be 56 -73% at normal temperature pressure(NTP) with zero carbon emission. Electrochemical production of hydrogen has several advantages: (i) It gives pure hydrogen. (ii) It allows portability (e.g. Solar energy could be used to power the electrochemical cell). (iii) It can be produced on demand. The generation of Hydrogen via electrolysis has been the subject of many studies over the last two hundred years. However, there is still room for further work to improve both the efficiency of the process and methods of storage of the gas. The cleanest method at present is to produce hydrogen by electrolysis, and the main focus of this research is to design and develop such a green energy fuel cell for on-demand application. The aim of the work presented in this thesis was to further investigate the electrolysis method for hydrogen production. An Electrochemical fuel cell contains a minimum of two electrodes: the positively charged electrode called the anode where oxygen bubble will form, and the second negatively charged electrode called the cathode, where hydrogen bubbles will form during a chemical reaction caused by applying electrical current between these electrode. The project was initiated with the objective of finding a low cost solution for on-demand hydrogen generation. To establish a starting point, the first cell (cell-1) design was based on the work of Stephen Barrie Chambers (see chapter 3) to check the performance levels. The fabrication of the cell-1 design resulted in a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen in the same chamber, which means the cell-1 design, has a possible fire and explosion hazard. The device also has the drawback of lower performance of hydrogen production; columbic efficiency is between 40% to 46% at 1 amp to 3 amp current in 30% KOH alkaline solution. However, the advantage of reproducing Stephen’s innovation is that it allowed a quick and deep understanding of hydrogen generation. This thesis presents recent work on the fabrication of low cost electrolysis cells containing continuous flow alkaline (KOH, up to 30%) electrolyte using low cost electrodes (stainless steel 316) and membranes based on ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMW PE) to produce hydrogen without the hazard of fire and explosion. In this research an On-Demand Hydrogen Generation cell-3 achieved a 95% hydrogen generation coulombic efficiency, which is about 49% efficiency improvement as compared to the stainless steel electrode, and was 22% better than the nano structured electrode. The typical cell voltage is 2.5 V at current flow ranging from 30 to 120 mA cm-2 in 30% KOH electrolyte. The achievement here of such high efficiencies paves the way for more research in the areas of space management, electrode surface structure and flow control (based on the application requirement). This invention can be used for aeronautic, marine and automotive application as well as in many other areas.
Supervisor: Silver, J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Alternative fuel ; Renewable energy ; On demand hydrogen generation ; Hybrid car ; Low carbon technology