Hydrogen is becoming one of the key energy carriers for the future to deal with the challenge of climate change and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, also because it can help to compensate for the intermittency of renewable energy resources, while it can be sustainably produced from e.g. solar and wind power through the electrolysis of water. Large-scale usage of H2, however, will necessitate its storage at massive scales. Multiple H2 storage options exist, among which through the production and use of NaBH4, associated with the regeneration of the spent fuel NaBO2. It is the purpose of this research project to develop NaBH4 as circular H2 storage option.
It is imminent the transition from fossil-fuels to greener alternatives in order to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement. Besides its zero-carbon foot-print and competitive price, the new generation of energy carriers must be sustainably recycled to avoid overmining and to eliminate waste at the outset. Alkali metal borohydrides have emerged as an attractive alternative to H2 technology, both as energy vector and hydrogen carrier, due to its high stability and enormous power density. However, the applicability at large-scale is hampered by the lack of economic synthetic routes to regenerate the spent fuel (metaborate).
The most realistic and potentially scalable option is to modify the industrial Brown-Schlesinger process, eliminating large amounts of sodium sulfate as undesired by-product. Two parallel and complementary research projects with industrial cooperation will assess the synthesis of borohydride:
What are you going to do
- a) PhD 1: modernizing the Brown-Schlesinger process via novel one-electron chemical pathways, forming radicals in situ while improving the energy efficiency and atom economy, and
- b) PhD 2: exploring novel electrochemical pathways for the Brown-Schlesinger process employing renewable energy and the spent fuel to enable NaBH4 as a circular H2 storage option.
You will be expected to:
- Actively search for literature of related topics
- Design and develop novel (electro)chemical synthetic routes, incl. mechanistic and kinetic studies
- Propose innovative alternatives to reach the final goals
- Publish in high level international journals, presenting at leading conferences
- Collaborate with university colleagues and industrial partners
- Participate in the group meetings and international conferences
- Mentor bsc and msc students in collaboration with the supervisor