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Catalysts are crucial components of fuel cell systems. Fuel cell developer GenCell Energy and leading researcher Fraunhofer UMSICHT have teamed up to start a project to produce large quantities of a novel inexpensive catalyst for generation of hydrogen from ammonia.GenCell has designed a power generation system which combines the advantages of low temperature alkaline fuel cells with an ability to release energy from liquid ammonia. The system consists of an ammonia cracker integrated with a fuel cell generator. Ammonia – a widely abundant hydrogen-rich compound that can be stored and transported relatively easily – is used to ensure hydrogen. The ammonia is decomposed in the ammonia cracker via a catalytic reaction, and the resulting mixture of hydrogen and nitrogen is fed directly into the fuel cell.
In the framework of the joint project, the “Materials and Catalysis” working group at the University of Duisburg-Essen has successfully synthesized and tested a novel, efficient catalyst for ammonia decomposition in the laboratory. The next step will involve a practical test of the catalyst under real operating conditions.
For the practical test, the Fraunhofer UMSICHT will carry out a scale-up of the catalyst synthesis process in order to subsequently produce shaped catalyst. “The scale-up of the catalyst synthesis is carried out in a temperature-controlled 20-liter vessel, which makes it possible to produce the catalyst on a larger scale,” explains Heiko Lohmann from the Department of Chemical Energy Storage at Fraunhofer UMSICHT.
GenCell Energy was pleased to partner with the Fraunhofer UMSICHT, who acts as a link between academic research and industry in order to translate promising catalytic materials and processes into technical applications. To this end UMSICHT provides comprehensive technical equipment for catalyst synthesis, characterization and testing.“GenCell Energy is pleased to cooperate with Fraunhofer UMSICHT on scaling up the production of novel catalysts,” commented Nino Borchtchoukova, R&D Director, GenCell Energy. “This positive scientific collaboration is contributing to the optimization of our ammonia cracking processes. We thank the researchers for their generous attention and hospitality and look forward to seeing the positive results of the tests.”