(499g) Separation of Sulphur Dioxide and Oxygen in Thermochemical Hydrogen Production | AIChE

(499g) Separation of Sulphur Dioxide and Oxygen in Thermochemical Hydrogen Production


Elder, R. H. - Presenter, University of Sheffield
Allen, R. W. K., University of Sheffield
He, G., University of Sheffield
Cumming, D. J., University of Sheffield

Dense Yttria-stabilised-zirconia (YSZ) membranes have been shown to have great potential for separating SO2 and O2 in the sulphur family of thermochemical cycles for hydrogen production. Use of a catalytic YSZ membrane reactor in the sulphuric acid decomposition stage of these cycles could drive the reaction forward and significantly increase the yield of SO2 and O2. Whilst SO2/O2 separation has been shown to be feasible at temperatures between 750°C and 950°C, significant performance degradation is seen over time. This performance degradation is shown to be due to sulphur poisoning (from both sulphur adsorption and sulphide formation) of the triple phase boundaries. A similar effect is seen in solid oxide fuel cells, where ppm concentrations of sulphur severely diminish cell performance.

Here we investigate the effect of voltage pulsing on membrane performance recovery. Significant performance recovery is seen after the application of a short voltage pulse. The optimum pulse duration and magnitude were found to be 0.08 s and 10 V respectively. The lower the magnitude of voltage pulse, the longer the duration required to achieve maximum recovery. Impedance spectroscopy and SEM results are presented, showing the contribution of different resistances and the effect of the voltage pulsing on the membrane cell.

Consideration of oxygen reduction mechanisms at the triple phase boundary shows that as voltage across the membrane increases, the rate controlling step changes from oxygen adsorption and surface diffusion, to oxygen availability in the feed. The higher voltage pulses are beneficial to performance recovery as polarisation resistance and charge transfer resistance decrease due to the removal of sulphur from the surface. Pulses that have too great a magnitude, or are too long, dramatically promote oxygen reduction and lead to concentration polarisation due to lack of oxygen in the feed.

Longer term testing (20 hours) showed that repeated, regular voltage pulsing can significantly improve membrane performance compared to those that receive no voltage pulsing.