The reversible binding of gas molecules is an essential component of many chemical processes including life itself.  The development of advanced sorbents is the key to the realization of technological advances in energy storage and gas purification that will enable the reduction of hazardous sorbent waste and air contamination. While sorbents for CO2 capture have been studied extensively, far less effort has been devoted to understanding sorption behavior of more reactive acidic gases such as SO2, SO3, and H2S, especially in mixed gas streams simulating practical environmental conditions. Acid gases (SOx, NOx and H2S) hinder the direct use of polluted air in polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells. The acid gas contaminants react with fuel cell components such as platinum catalyst, greatly reducing the efficiency of the fuel cell. The structural and thermodynamic constraints to chemical tailoring of the current commercial sorbents suggest their limited potential to meet the selectivity, sorption capacities, sorption kinetics and reversibility needs of efficient fuel cell air purification.

HNEI researchers are investigating reversible and non-reversible acid gas sorbent materials for fuel cell air purification application. The research is focused on development of alternate high performance sorbents with high selectivity, high sorption capacity and optimum sorption kinetics to enable effective gas contaminants mitigation in fuel cell operations, especially under harsh air environments. The HNEI team is performing research on nano confined ionic liquids and inorganic solids, and nanoporous materials. If successful, the research would shift fuel cell air purification towards efficient filtration systems that are selective and reversible, reducing costs and minimizing the levels of non-regenerable contaminated sorbent waste. The development of the advanced sorbents is of critical importance due to the increasing availability of clean energy technologies based on fuel cells that require abundant efficiently filtered air.

Point Person: Godwin Severa

 

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