Zouhair Boukha: Catalytic hydrogen production

Title

Metallic microreactors for the intensification of catalytic hydrogen production and purification processes

Mentor

Zouhair Boukha

University

Bilbao, Spain: Universidad del Pais Vasco

Project overview

The development of clean and efficient energy technology solutions has been considered one of the most important challenges facing scientific and technological research since the turn of the century. In this sense, designing unconventional microreactors to facilitate catalytical processes during the production and purification of hydrogen is a significant concern in addition to the miniaturization of equipment in the feedforward system of fuel batteries. This is mainly due to the notable increase in mass and heat transfer coefficients as compared to conventional reactors. Additionally, the use of “microgrids” as microreactors provides higher surface/volume ratio and offers a configuration that allows the generation of turbulent flow. The aim of this project is to prepare, characterize and test the catalytic materials consisting of hydroxyapatite catalytic films supported on metallic microgrids which provide less than 200 microns in channel length. The project will be carried out along two parallel lines; The first line consists on applying these metallic micro-monoliths covered with a catalytic film in an experimental unit for hydrogen production by steam reforming of methane. The second line of our research will be devoted to the study the applicability of those materials during the purification of the hydrogen flow. For this end, we will conduct two complementary reactions: WGS reaction and COPROX process. In our research, we propose the use of steel metallic microgrids. Hydroxyapatite catalytic films will be deposited on these materials to enhance their textural and chemical properties. The optimization of the conditions will be necessary to solve the problems related to the size of cells and the metallic composition of the substrate which hinder the incorporation of the catalytic film by a uniform and a well-adhered coating. Through impregnation, we will proceed to the modification of the catalytic film by introducing an active metallic phase. Depending on the catalytic application, various noble and transition metals will be employed. To serve as reference, we will also prepare and investigate powdered materials using the same active phases. In this Project, which considers the advances of the field, especially the ones mentioned in the state-of-the-art section, the candidate is seeking to engage in the development of new technologies, above all those aiming at manufacturing a new generation of  metallic micromonoliths (microgrids type) which present a real future alternative that can substitute conventional monoliths (e.g. cordierite). The originality of this proposal also lays in its methodology that consists on the deposition of a catalytic film made of an unconventional support (hydroxyapatite), showing an advantageous characteristic for the speciation of the active centers. In this sense, the goal of the proposed project is to improve the current energy technology by satisfying the current need for various catalytic processes related to energy production. At the same time, this project could contribute toward integrating researchers in an area which offers excellent prospects for technology transfer as it aims at generating high value-added products.