Greener hydrogen production – with a solid carbon bonus

Cyclone Engineers are joining forces in a $4 million project to make hydrogen production more environmentally sustainable.

In a project led by the University of Oklahoma, Jean-Philippe TessonnierProfessor Richard C. Seagrave and Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering (above, center), and Eric CochranMary Jane Skogen Hagenson and Randy L. Hagenson Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering (above, right), and Mark Mba-Wrightassociate professor of mechanical engineering (above, left), will bring key expertise to research questions about how to combine renewable methane from Oklahoma with renewable biomass from Iowa to create better ways to produce hydrogen energy – and how to best utilize the solid carbon by-product created during the hydrogen recovery process.

Tessonnier brings its expertise in materials chemistry, catalysis and biomass conversion to adapt the surface properties of the carbons produced according to their end uses.

“This project leverages Iowa State’s expertise in biomass and biorenewable chemicals to develop high-performance carbon materials for applications ranging from composite materials such as those used for wind turbines to water filtration. But since carbon is a key material in batteries, we are also considering other applications in clean energy,” Tessonnier said.

Cochran will use his extensive experience in polymer chemistry to optimize thermodynamics, transport and reaction engineering processes.

“One of my roles in the project is to look at how some of this carbon could be made so that it can be mixed with plastics to make them stronger and lighter.” said Cochran. “This is a huge opportunity to develop new uses for a material that would be produced in great abundance from hydrogen harvesting.”

Mba-Wright, an expert in energy system analysis, particularly in the field of biomass, will study the design of thermal systems and assess their efficiency in terms of carbon and energy efficiency, among other parameters.

“This project presents a unique opportunity to leverage the carbon and renewable energy strengths of Iowa and Oklahoma. The innovations of this project could lead to new collaborations towards the commercialization of hybrid products with high added value that are both economical and sustainable,” said Mba-Wright.