Polymers in Hydrogen Technology
Hydrogen is seen as a promising alternative to fossil fuels because it produces only water vapor as a waste product when burned. Thus no greenhouse gases are released. However, there are some challenges that need to be overcome and which we face in numerous projects at the Department of Polymer Engineering and Science.
One topic is the production of hydrogen: it can be produced using electrolysis, or what is known as methane pyrolysis. While the efficiency of the electrolysis cells is a major issue with electrolysis, methane pyrolysis raises the question of what to do with the resulting pure carbon.
Additionally, hydrogen has a high diffusion rate, which means it can diffuse through many materials, including steel and plastics. This means that hydrogen can easily escape from tanks and pipelines. Our researchers are therefore addressing this issue in further projects, exploring optimized methods for storing and transportation of hydrogen. Various options are available for storage. One option is storage at high pressures and low temperatures, but this is relatively energy-intensive and places high demands on the materials used. Alternatively, hydrogen can be transported at lower pressures if the materials used have sufficient barrier properties, or it can also be stored in chemically bound form, provided that the substances used allow reversible hydrogenation and dehydrogenation.