(526e) Fe2O3/CaO-Ca12Al14O33 Multifunctional Catalyst in Sorption Enhanced Chemical Looping Reforming of Ethanol Combined with Water Splitting for Hydrogen Production

Assabumrungrat, S. - Presenter, Chulalongkorn University
Saupsor, J., Chulalongkorn University
Wongsakulphasatch, S., University of Manchester
Kim-Lohsoontorn, P., Chulalongkorn University
Bumroongsakulsawat, P., Chulalongkorn University
Kiatkittipong, W., Silpakorn University
Ratchahat, S., Mahidol University
Charojrochkul, S., National Metal and Materials Technology Center
Gong, J., Tianjin University
Hydrogen is being considered as a future alternative/clean fuel due to abundant availability of hydrogen bearing substances in nature, its highest energy content (120.7 kJ/g) compared to any of the known fuels, its heating value approximately three to four folds higher than natural gas and coal, and its clean combustion without generating any environmental pollution [1-2]. Hydrogen is mainly produced via steam reforming. Ethanol is a good candidate of feedstocks due to its renewability, availability, ease of transportation, low toxicity and low catalyst poisons (e.g. sulfur) [3-5]. Producing hydrogen from steam reforming of ethanol is not only environmental friendly, but also offers great opportunities for utilization of renewable resources [6]. The conventional steam reforming (SR) of ethanol, however, suffers from several disadvantages such as complexity of process and high energy consumption. Various multifunctional reactors have been proposed to improve the process for efficient production of hydrogen. Introducing CO2 sorbent as a sorption enhanced steam reforming (SESR) process offers H2 production with in situ CO2 separation in a single reactor. Additionally, shifting the equilibrium to product side and providing a self-heat supply from exothermic CO2 adsorption would maximize the H2 production and provide high purity H2. Considering CO2 sorbent, CaO with modification is widely used due to its high CO2 adsorption capacity and excellent thermal stability in the carbonation and calcination.

Recently, chemical looping reforming (CLR) represents a promising process for H2 production with low energy consumption. In CLR process, solid oxygen carrier (OC) is employed for supplying oxygen to fuel for partial oxidation. Furthermore, the re-oxidation of OC in an air reactor (AR) can provide heat for highly endothermic reaction in a reforming reactor (RR). For H2 production in CLR, various oxides of Ni, Fe, Mn, Co and Cu have been considered as good candidates of oxygen carrier. Among them, iron oxide is a promising material in terms of abundant availability, reasonable price, and non-toxicity.

Integration of SESR and CLR becomes an intensified process called sorption enhanced chemical looping steam reforming (SECLR). This novel process has been proven by many researchers to provide the highest performance, compared to SR, SESR and CLR. Our previous study reported that the SECLR using CaO and NiO as CO2 adsorbent and OCs could reduce the energy requirement and increase the net hydrogen production [7]. The SECLR process could be further improved by integrating water splitting to CLR for maximizing H2 production. In previous literature, chemical looping process for the generation of hydrogen was introduced as the steam-iron process and nowadays, it has been further modified as chemical looping hydrogen generation (CLHG) or chemical looping water splitting (CLWS). The oxygen carrier functions in CLWS must be able to split water to produce H2 in a steam reactor (SR). Iron oxides possess a multifunctional ability for chemical looping and water splitting.

In this study, a process of sorption enhanced chemical looping of ethanol reforming combined with water splitting (SECLR-WS) has been developed. The SECLR-WS process could simultaneously produce H2 from both steam reforming of ethanol and water splitting of steam, as well as in situ CO2 removal. To obtain these, multifunctional catalysts were synthesized from mixed precursors of Fe2O3 as oxygen carrierand modified CaO (CaO/Ca12Al14O33) as CO2 adsorbent. Fe2O3 was used as OC because it is cheap and widely available, compared to nickel. In addition, Fe2O3 in its reduced state has ability to split water into hydrogen which is unavailable in Ni species.

In experimental, multifunctional catalysts (Fe2O3/CaO-Ca12Al14O33) containing Fe2O3 as OCs/water splitting catalyst, and CaO/Ca12Al14O33 modified sorbent as CO2 absorbent were prepared by sol-gel method. A series of catalysts was prepared with different iron contents of 5, 10 and 15wt%, denoted as 5Fe/CaAl, 10Fe/CaAl and 15Fe/CaAl, respectively. In addition, the effect of adding iron precursor before (5Fe/CaAl) and after peptised with acid (5Fe*/CaAl) was examined. The test of catalysts in SECLR-WS process was carried out at reforming temperature of 600ºC, steam to ethanol ratio of 4 and total flow rate of 50 ml/min (ethanol vapor and steam of 20 ml/min balanced with N2). Various characterizations including XRD, TGA, SEM, and BET were performed before and after the H2 production in order to investigate the physiochemical characteristics of catalysts such as the evolution of the iron species during the H2 production process.

In the reforming reactor (RR), the reduction step would be proceeded. The Fe2O3 phase in catalyst bulk was supposed to be reduced into FeO/Fe by reforming with ethanol. After the Fe2O3 phase changed to FeO/Fe in the RR, the steam being introduced would subsequently react with FeO/Fe for water splitting which is called the oxidation step. Obviously, hydrogen generation was observed in the oxidation step. It confirmed that the Fe-based OCs could work well as multifunctional catalysts for reforming and water splitting in the developed SECLR-WS process. Typically, iron loading has a significant influence on the composition, particle size and CO2 adsorption capacity of the catalyst. It was found that the lower H2 production in pre-breakthrough and high CO2 concentration were obtained as an increase in Fe content from 5% to 15wt%. In our preliminary results, the Fe/CaAl with 5% iron exhibited the highest performance for H2 production.

Changing the step of adding iron precursor before (5Fe/CaAl) and after peptised with acid (5Fe*/CaAl) demonstrated a similar behavior of H2 production with maximum productivity approximately of 65% and breakthrough time (tb) of 30 min. The activity of Fe2O3/CaO-Ca12Al14O33 catalysts was independent to the synthesis steps in sol-gel method. In the catalyst synthesis, sol-gel method provided the strong interactions between Fe and Ca, resulting in a formation of Ca2Fe2O5 phase which lower Fe active sites and CaO sorbent capacity. As a result, lower H2 production and breakthrough time were observed.

In conclusion, the SECLR-WS process was successfully developed in this study. The as-synthesized catalyst exhibited multifunctionality for maximizing H2 production from steam reforming of ethanol and water splitting. The 5wt% Fe in the catalyst provided the highest performance in term of maximum H2 production.

Selected References:

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