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Liquid molecules that can absorb and release hydrogen

Liquid organic hydrogen carriers, or LOHCs, can absorb hydrogen and release it when needed. In research conducted for a Carnot Network project, the CEA is developing innovative LOHCs that leverage the reversible hydrogenation-dehydrogenation reactions of certain non-toxic organic compounds. 

Published on 31 January 2023

The researchers were able to identify a particularly promising molecule-catalyst combination: GBL-BDO*. Not only can the GBL molecules be synthesized from renewable resources, but the molecule-catalyst combination also demonstrates lower dehydrogenation enthalpy (41 kJ/molH2) than that of conventional LOHCs. The researchers developed catalysts for both reactions and tested them in laboratory batch reactors, where they outperformed the reactions obtained with commercial catalysts. A chemical regime analysis of the batch reactor tests was then used to develop a kinetic model of the reactions. 

© D. Guillaudin / CEA

A continuous reactor test bench was also designed during this phase of the research for further testing of the GBL-BDO hydrogenation-dehydrogenation reactions. The experimental results obtained in this research also led to the validation of a reactor model that factors in not only the reaction's kinetics and thermodynamics, but also its thermal and hydrodynamic aspects. 

The models developed were used to design an innovative reactor technology. A patent has been filed to protect the innovation.

*gamma-butyrolactone (GBL)-1,4-butanediol (BDO)

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