Passing the torch: Utilising full blade waste for the production, catalytic conversion and storage of H2 in methanol

Research projects

  • Research area

    Accelerate consent and support environmental sustainability

  • Institution

    University of Hull

  • Research project

    Passing the torch: Utilising full blade waste for the production, catalytic conversion and storage of H2 in methanol

  • Lead supervisor

    Dr Martin Taylor (Lecturer in Chemical Engineering, University of Hull)

  • PhD Student

    Planned for 2024 Entry

  • Supervisory Team

    Dr Vicky Skoulou (Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering-Bioenergy - Faculty of Science and Engineering)
    Dr Ben Kolosz (Lecturer in Renewable Energy and Carbon Capture, Energy and Environment Institute, University of Hull)
    Dr Kin Wai Cheah (Lecturer in Engineering, Teesside University)

Project Description:

This Research Project is part of the Aura CDT’s Keeping it green: Preserving materials and repurposing waste within the Offshore Wind sector Cluster.

If Steve McQueen were a gas, it would be hydrogen (H2). This is the major curse for the most promising future zero carbon fuel available, it can escape from its confines. This project will utilise the major components of a wind turbine blade; balsa wood and fiberglass after decommissioning. As the current renewable energy material reaches its end of life, it will be upcycled to create the next low carbon energy option. Balsa wood waste will undergo gasification to produce bio-hydrogen (Bio-H2). Bio-H2 presents many challenges due to leakage, explosive potential and energy requirements for pressurising/cooling, thus limiting H2’s potential as a mainstream fuel source, globally.

To overcome these challenges, the PhD candidate will design and validate a novel technology solution at a lab scale to transform bio-H2 into a more manageable liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) that can be transported and stored easily over long distances. By developing a copper (Cu) functionalised fiberglass catalyst for post balsa wood gasification, the catalytic hydrogenation of carbon dioxide (CO2) will take place to produce bio-methanol, a low carbon liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC). Methanol will allow the direct usage of produced CO2 as a holding site for H2, allowing two moles of hydrogen to be accommodated for every mole of CO2. Such a liquid energy carrier has a higher energy density than ammonia and other alcohols, which makes it a suitable option for energy storage and transportation, as well as a prime maritime transport fuel (methanol bunkering). It can be easily stored using existing infrastructure, such as pipelines and tankers, similar to other liquid fuels. Moreover, it has a lower toxicity compared to other alternatives including ammonia.

Copper is an excellent catalytic candidate for methanol production due to it not poisoning by carbon monoxide (CO) adsorption and general coke resistance, this will allow CO to be removed from the process without contamination of the LOHC. The fiberglass support will be additionally functionalised with elements such as Al, Zr or Fe to increase the acidic characteristics, known for favouring hydrogenation reactions to maximise methanol production. Initial reactions will use model gases to assess conversion, selectivity and catalyst stability over time, comparing with current materials in the literature and balsa wood gasification after reaction optimisation. By the end of the project, an integrated system for gasifying balsa wood and catalysing methanol production using a fixed bed will be developed, validating the technology for real world applications. also contain a full life cycle assessment (LCA) for the use of balsa wood waste for carbon capture, storage and utilisation through the production of methanol, delving into the net emissions of the production process and its comparison with natural decay, with an integrated technoeconomic assessment (TEA) for the net cost of CO2 captured based upon LCA results

For an informal discussion, call +44 (0) 1482 463331
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