Carbon capture and removal via electrochemical membranes

Carbon Capture and Storage

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) technologies must play a fundamental role in our decarbonization strategy. Our Lab studies electrochemical pathways to perform retrofit integration of CCS technologies into existing point sources, especially from industrial applications (e.g., steel, cement, glass manufacturing). Moreover, it conceptualizes new electrochemical cells and separation membranes to perform the separation, removal, and pressurization of CO2.

Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells (MCFC) have been historically employed for CCS applications. We have extensively studied MCFC systems for CCS from gas fired combined cycles, internal combustion engines, solid oxide fuel cells, coal plants, integrated steel mills, cement plants, and refinery processes.

We study these systems with in-house developed open source software for thermodynamic process integration and with modelling tools for cell and stack analysis. The detailed understanding of the thermal integration of electrochemical cells into the power generation or industrial process is fundamental to achieve high Carbon Capture Ratios (CCR) and low Specific Primary Energy per CO2 Avoided (SPECCA) indexes. Our models are able to predict the performance of the MCFC unit when operated in conditions typical of CCS applications (i.e., variable CO2 concentration in the exhaust gases). Moreover, we optimize their operation by analyzing the electrochemical conversion pathways as a function of the fuel and oxidant supplied, as well as finding the optimal catalyst composition and structure.

We characterize carbonate-ion conducting cells to perform CDR from dilute sources of CO2, ultimately Direct Air Capture (DAC), and from reducing gases (e.g., biogas). CDR and subsequent utilization is one of the pillars for tackling CO2 emissions from hard-to-decarbonize sectors, such as aviation.


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