Grant Bankrolls Sustainable Hydrogen Production

March 1, 2024
Research team will develop a membrane to separate different elements in the air and support gasification-based hydrogen production.

Haiqing Lin, professor and director of graduate studies in chemical and biological engineering at the University at Buffalo, along with his team, was recently awarded $1.5 million, including $1.17 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, for a two-year project aimed at making hydrogen production more sustainable, according to a Feb. 29 press release. 

“Conventionally, you produce pure oxygen through a cryogenic process,” Lin explained. “You take air, remove water and bring the temperature down to a very cold level. It’s quite an energy-intensive process, particularly at small scales.”

The team's goal is to reduce carbon emissions by developing a cost-effective membrane technology that separates oxygen from nitrogen in the air for gasification-based hydrogen production. This approach, if successful, could significantly contribute to the Biden-Harris administration's clean energy targets. The membrane, made of selectively permeable hollow fibers, would enable the production of pure oxygen at lower costs compared to traditional methods. Collaborating with researchers at UT Austin and Trimeric Corp., Lin's team is striving to achieve an oxygen/nitrogen selectivity of 15, which would substantially improve oxygen production efficiency. Despite the challenges, Lin remains optimistic about the project's potential to transform hydrogen production and mitigate carbon emissions.

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