H2Tech LAB – Laboratory of Hydrogen Technologies – interfaculty laboratory at Gdańsk Tech | Gdańsk University of Technology

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Date added: 2023-01-31

H2Tech LAB – Laboratory of Hydrogen Technologies – interfaculty laboratory at Gdańsk Tech

3 proffesors
Prof. Sebastian Molin, prof. Robert Małkowski oraz prof. Jacek Gębicki. Photo: Krzysztof Krzempek/Gdańsk Tech
H2Tech LAB „Laboratory of Hydrogen Technologies” will be created as a result of cooperation between the researchers from the Faculty of Chemistry, Faculty of Electrical and Control Engineering, Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics, and Faculty of Applied Physics and Mathematics.

The laboratory will be the effect of integrating the existing R&D infrastructure, i.e. Linte^2 Laboratory and new infrastructures developed as part of the following projects:

  • “Gdańsk Tech Hydrogen -  based energy Storage Testbed” (Gdańsk Tech HEST) managed by Prof. Robert Małkowski from the Faculty of Electrical and Control Engineering
  • “Gdańsk Tech scalable and efficient electrolysis stack prototype” – manager by Prof. Sebastian Molin from the Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics
  • „Gdańsk Tech Hydrogen transport and storage in chemical compounds” – manager by Prof. Jacek Gębicki from the faculty of Chemistry, in cooperation with the Faculty of Applied Physics and Mathematics.

The projects obtained funding in the amount of nearly PLN 3 million  from the Ventus Hydrogenii Redivivus (V-H-R) program.

The projects are perfectly consistent with both the European Union and Polish hydrogen strategies, which expect renewable hydrogen to play a key role in decarbonization of industrial and energy sectors. Additionally, the outcomes of the projects will significantly support the R&D work on hydrogen technologies  at Gdańsk Tech. They will allow to intensify the scientific and R&D cooperation, and to support the development of the research staff. H2Tech LAB will undoubtedly increase the visibility of hydrogen-related competences of Gdańsk Tech in the public space.

Production of hydrogen, prototypes and tests for the industry

– The main objective of the HEST project is to build an innovative hydrogen system for R&D purposes. Renewable hydrogen will be produced by industrial electrolyzers supplied with renewable energy from photovoltaic power station at LINTE^2 laboratory. The hydrogen will be used by other H2Tech LAB modules and by industrial clients. An important part of the project will also be the development of the research services within the scope of testing and diagnostics of hydrogen fuel cells. The service is expected to be very attractive for the potential industrial partners – emphasized Prof. Robert Małkowski.

The second project, managed by Prof. Sebastian Molin, involves the development of a prototype electrolyzer stack of more than 1,000 watts for efficient production of hydrogen from water, particularly using renewable energy sources. The device will be constructed using commercially available state-of-the-art membranes using electrode nanomaterials developed in the Functional Materials Laboratory at the Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics. The new electrode materials do not contain expensive platinum group elements, which will enable lower device costs. Modular design of the electrolyzer will allow scaling the power of the system by increasing the number of cells or combining multiple devices. The created prototype will be a finished platform for application in electrolysis systems such as energy storage. It will be possible to store the produced hydrogen in pressurized tanks and check the operating conditions with variable power sources.

Hydrogen storage and transportation

Although its low carbon emission and high energy efficiency make hydrogen an attractive fuel, it also has unfavorable physicochemical properties: high diffusivity, corrosivity and explosivity. Usually, hydrogen is stored in steel cylinders at a pressure of 200 atm, but it is also possible to store and transport it in composite tanks at pressures as high as 700 atm. However, This solution is extremely expensive. The second possibility is to lower the temperature to a few degrees Kelvin to get hydrogen in liquid form. In this state of aggregation, the gas is stored in a so-called Dewar vessel (basically a special thermos) with adequate insulation to prevent rapid evaporation. However, liquid hydrogen boils continuously and it is necessary to drain the gas that is being released. Both solutions are troublesome.

– As an alternative to storing and transporting hydrogen in compressed form, it can be stored in certain types of chemical compounds – says Prof. Jacek Gębicki, the Head of the Hydrogen Technologies Center at Gdańsk Tech – There are many compounds of this type, but in this project we will be using the well-known methanol, which is very commonly used in various petrochemical processes. Methanol is, colloquially speaking, a safe storage for hydrogen and a much safer substance to transport, since it is a liquid. Additionally, the process of recovering hydrogen from methanol is not complicated.

The methanol synthesis process using waste carbon dioxide and a reverse process – hydrogen recovery through steam reforming, will be conducted in the H2Tech Lab.

– Both processes require special catalysts – explains Prof. Gębicki – Based on previous experience, we want to design a modification of the available and already used catalysts so that the process parameters are reduced. The synthesis of methanol takes place at temperatures below 300 degrees and around 60-70 bar, while when using the new type of catalysts, these values will be significantly reduced. This will reduce the energy costs of the entire process and increase not only the cost-effectiveness of the technology, but also its pro-environmental nature.

Influence of H2Tech LAB on the business environment

In addition to providing extensive research capabilities, the H2Tech LAB will also allow for testing commercial solutions. It will be possible to conduct tests on both individual components as well as complex solutions based on hydrogen technology, such as energy storage. H2Tech LAB will also be an important, hands-on component in the training process of specialized staff. Our graduates will have the opportunity to become specialists in the implementation of hydrogen technologies in various industrial sectors – says Prof. Robert Małkowski.

Implementation of all three projects and building the laboratory is expected in two years.