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NAPOP TECHNOLOGY

Our technology development focus rests on developing efficient ways of chemically converting the energy potential in hydrogen, to useable power.

We find the most efficient means of converting the energy potential in hydrogen, to useable power…

Hydrogen internal combustion engine (HICE)

The simplest approach, would be to use the internal combustion engine as starting point. In a second stage, this can be used for generating both electricity as well as thermal energy. It has been successfully converted to run on a multitude of hydrocarbon offspring’s including methane.

 

How far is it from becoming suitable for hydrogen? Well, it's already there.

HICE’s combusts hydrogen very similar to the process of burning gasoline in a regular spark-ignition engine. Interestingly, one of the earliest successful internal combustion engines used a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen as fuel. The inventor, François Isaac de Rivaz, used it in a vehicle designed to carry heavy loads over short distances.

Today, the HICE is certainly a part of the picture. In comparison with the fuel cell, it is considered more applicable for high-load applications. The main issue relates to emissions. Whilst the fuel cell represents true zero-emission performance, the hydrogen ICE is not quite there. It will release traces of CO2 (from ambient air/ lubricants). Additionally, due to high combustion temperatures, it will generate NOx emissions.

 

The HICE also suffers from relatively moderate fuel efficiency. Addressing CAPEX is at the forefront when compared with the fuel cell, along with cost efficiency. However, this is likely to change as demand for fuel cells increases and production costs are reduced.    

NAPOP has considered hydrogen ICE’s for a number of applications. This has included addressing the emission issues with particular emphasis on NOx, and how mitigating measures (standard catalysis/ selective catalytic reduction/ exhaust gas recirculation) can be applied.   

Fuel Cells

The fuel cell has been around for a while, developed by Sir William Grove in 1832! Through its various development stages, it has been widely used in different space, and military applications. Today, fuel cells are applied in civilian applications. For example; back-up power in commercial, industrial and residential buildings, as well as powering equipment in remote and/or inaccessible areas. They are also used in transportation. More widely than you would think. We find them powering cars, forklifts, buses, boats and motorcycles among others.    

Fuel Cells

The fuel cell in principle

The fuel cell has been around for a while, developed by Sir William Grove in 1832! Through its various development stages, it has been widely used in different space, and military applications. Today, fuel cells are applied in civilian applications. For example; back-up power in commercial, industrial and residential buildings, as well as powering equipment in remote and/or inaccessible areas. They are also used in transportation. More widely than you would think. We find them powering cars, forklifts, buses, boats and motorcycles among others.    

Although there are many different types, they all apply an anode, a cathode as well as an electrolyte that allows ions to move between the two sides of the fuel cell. For a hydrogen-fueled fuel cell, these ions would be hydrogen ions (protons). At the anode, a catalytic material will cause the fuel to oxidize, generating positively charged hydrogen ions.

The ions move from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte. Simultaneously, electrons flows from the anode to the cathode through an external circuit producing direct current electricity. At the cathode, another catalyst causes ions, electrons and oxygen to react forming predominately H2O - water!

Fuel cells are referred to by the applied electrolyte and by the difference is start-up time for the chemical process to generate electricity, which can vary widely. The most used fuel cells are;

  •  Alkaline fuel cell

  •  Proton-exchange membrane fuel cell - or PEM fuel cells

  •  Solid oxide  fuel cells - usually referred to as SOFC’s

  •  Protonic ceramic fuel cells - referred to as PCFC’s

These different types have different operational requirements (e.g. temperature) and start-up time (PEM from 1 second/ SOFC - from 10 minutes) as well as efficiency. In general, fuel cell efficiency is considerably higher than the efficiency of internal combustion engines and varies typically between 40 - 60%.

There are a number of suppliers of fuels cells of different types in the marketplace. NAPOP has engaged in collaborations with leading suppliers of different types, ensuring that have access to the latest technology, as well as to the support we require in our integration work developing robust and reliable fuel cell-based energy stations.

Generic illustration of a PEM fuel cell.  

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The fuel cell for conversion of  chemically stored energy in hydrogen to useable power.

 

 

CATALYTIC THERMAL COMBUSTION

NASA and the Military use CTC technology for safety aspects where excess hydrogen can occur. By parametric understanding and management embodied into system automation, hydrogen can be safely applied in CTC systems for thermal applications. Noble metals deposed to metal, is the key to full combustion!

FACTS ABOUT CATALYTIC THERMAL COMBUSTION

Some 55 - 70% of all energy consumed by different global process industries is used to generate heat. An astonishing 95% of this energy derives from fossil fuels such as oil and coal. These industries face a massive challenge when required to respond to the energy transition.

 

Hydrogen is an obvious zero-emission fuel. Implementation of widespread hydrogen for thermal appliances requires safe and efficient methods for the transformation of stored energy in hydrogen, to useable thermal energy.

   

From previous development of electrolysis membrane cells for alkali production, we were faced with the issue of “rendering hydrogen harmless” in spaces were ignition sources may be present. In our pursuit to identify safe and easily controllable means of combusting hydrogen, we addressed the principle of catalytic oxidation. This later developed into IP as well as products integrated with the electrolysis membrane cell for the safe management of unwanted excess hydrogen.

This technology is currently the basis for our ongoing CTC development. The CTC applies thermally controlled catalytic combustion of hydrogen, to generate useable thermal energy. This is comprised of heating, drying and thermal applications, aimed at the processing industry, as well as for the building and construction industries. The oxidation process is complete and thus, provides a very high level of efficiency, and represents a true zero emission process. Further, the technology offers extremely compact solutions. Our 75 kW pilot unit measures a volume of less than 1,5 liters.

   

NAPOP H2 CTC for the building and construction industry will be available in Q1 2023.

NO EMISSIONS & HIGH EFFICIENCY

CTC combust hydrogen fully - Efficiency is approximately 97-98% 

Electrolysis - producing green hydrogen

Our focus is entirely on green hydrogen, i.e. producing hydrogen by means of electrolysis applying renewable energy as the provider. Electrolysis applies electricity to split water into oxygen and hydrogen molecules. This happens in an electrolyser which is quite similar to a fuel cell in that it consists of a fuel electrode (cathode), and an oxygen electrode (anode) “emerged” in an electrolyte. The electrolyte may be liquid or a solid.

Variations in different electrolyser designs relate predominately to the electrolyte material and the ionic species it conducts. As for fuel cells, these units consist of a multitude of anode - electrolyte - cathode section or stack, and when duplicated, are usually referred to as an electrolysis cell.  By nature of design, they are easily modulated. Both the size of the electrodes, as well as number of stacks determine the capacity of the cell. From this, the same design can be applied to meet different capacity requirements ranging from small to large scale production.

Generic illustration of an alkaline electrolyzer. 

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Electrolysis of water for the generation of hydrogen - in principle - in its simplicity!

 

Generic illustration of an alkaline electrolyser. 

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