EU countries are committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050. To succeed, we have to drastically transform the current energy system.
In this framework, LIST is developing new materials and components for the production, high-pressure storage and detection of hydrogen with the aim of reducing production costs, decreasing environmental impact and creating market-attractive solutions.
The LIST Materials department will take part in the European Hydrogen Week under the "Hydrogen Europe Research" pavilion, where we will showcase our know-how and cutting-edge technologies.
Don’t miss the speech of our Materials Research and Technology Department Director Dr Damien Lenoble at the High-Level Policy Conference ! ( 23 Nov | 02:00 pm)
Come and meet us: our experts are waiting for you!
In the context of a collaboration with the industrial partner 3D-Oxides, LIST is exploring a combinatorial approach to the discovery and optimization of photocatalytic materials for H2 generation through solar-light driven water splitting.
The combinatorial facility at LIST includes a chemical beam vapor deposition (CBVD) system (Sybilla-450, ABCD Technology) for the deposition of multi-element oxides thin films over a 45 cm-diameter deposition area. Relying on a multitude of combinatorial configurations, CBVD offers the possibility to scan rapidly wide ranges of film compositions distributed over a large area to perform “stoichiometry tuning” of multi-element photocatalysts containing up to five elements.
The main advantages of this approach are:
(1) fast screening of chemically diverse light-responsive materials,
(2) access to compositional patterns not achievable by conventional synthesis approaches;
(3) possibility to switch from combinatorial to uniform configurations to deposit continuous and uniform thin films with the desired composition, an attractive feature to develop large-area electrodes and upscale water splitting to practical levels.
A pioneering research endeavor has emerged in LIST, dedicated to the self-assembly of hybrid materials composed of nanomaterials and polyelectrolytes. This cutting-edge scientific exploration capitalizes on the unique properties of nanomaterials, allowing us to engineer materials at the atomic and molecular scales. By combining these nanomaterials with polyelectrolytes, a class of polymers with high ionic conductivity, the research team has successfully designed a new generation of electrodes that circumvent the need for precious metal catalysts. The self-assembly process employed in this study enables the precise arrangement of nanomaterials within the electrode structure, leading to enhanced catalytic activity and stability.
One of the key advantages of this approach lies in its environmental impact. By eliminating the dependence on precious metals, the production of fuel cells becomes more sustainable and cost-effective. This breakthrough not only addresses the issue of resource scarcity but also significantly reduces the overall manufacturing costs, making PEMFC technology more accessible for widespread adoption.
Furthermore, the high-performance and long-lasting characteristics of these electrodes are poised to revolutionize the field of renewable energy. PEMFCs equipped with these advanced electrodes exhibit superior efficiency and durability, making them ideal candidates for a wide range of applications, from transportation to stationary power generation. The prospect of cleaner, more efficient energy solutions is now closer to realization, thanks to our tireless efforts in pushing the boundaries of materials science and electrochemistry.
LIST has recently implemented a gas phase strategy for the straightforward synthesis, deposition and engineering of polymer catalysts for the production of hydrogen from water. Operating from the gas phase enables to circumvent the chronic solubility limitation of polymer catalysts, allowing to take full advantage of the rich chemistry of aromatic compounds to engineer the light harvesting and catalytic properties of polymer catalysts. Aromatic compounds based on Earth-abundant elements (e.g. C, N, S, O), including industrial dyes, are readily polymerised from the gas phase to form polymer thin films with enhanced catalytic properties.
LIST approach, inherently scalable, is foreseen to enable the deployment of versatile and affordable heterogeneous catalysts based on Earth-abundant and non-toxic elements.
With respect to hydrogen high-pressure storage, LIST is conducting research and innovation activities according to 3 research axes:
COST REDUCTION. LIST follows a holistic approach that consider the reduction of the quantity of expensive carbon fibres through optimised composite design enabled by data-driven computational modelling, as well as enhanced productivity via the development of innovative / alternative manufacturing approaches,
SUSTAINABILITY. LIST is developing a range of materials solutions that consider proprietary bio-based resin systems synthesized from renewable resources or thermoplastics, enhanced durability enabled by materials improved performance and easy repairability, as well as strategies for efficient end-of-life management
SECURITY. LIST is exploring the integration of low cost, low consumption and miniaturized sensors for real time tank monitoring but also to provide feedback for design optimisation
Tiny amounts of hydrogen within high-strength metallic alloys can cause a significant reduction in strength and ductility, potentially leading to abrupt failure. On the other hand, small quantities of hydrogen can be beneficial in silicon solar panels and is widely used to passivate unwanted defects.
Thus, it is necessary to identify the location and relative quantity of hydrogen within cutting-edge materials technologies. Critically, only a limited number of analytical techniques can directly detect hydrogen in solids and even fewer can give its location down to the nanometer scale with sufficient chemical sensitivity. Furthermore, the high diffusivity of hydrogen can pose an additional challenge, potentially necessitating cryogenic handling. One technique capable of satisfying this challenging set of criteria is Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry, or SIMS.
At LIST there is an extensive expertise in SIMS characterization, with a broad array of instruments from well-established commercial systems to innovative prototype instruments. Imaging hydrogen in a variety of materials is a unique and important challenge, but it is one that LIST is constantly developing expertise and instrumentation to overcome.
LIST has developed a proprietary technology providing freedom from the intermittent nature of variable renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, but from ocean’s waves as a source of electricity in the water electrolysis process. This proof of concept has strong economic potential with regard to hydrogen production costs, while minimising the strategic dependence on critical metals and scarce land resources used in variable renewable energy.
This device was exhibited to industrial stakeholders at LIST key institutional event:TECHDAY in Belval (Luxembourg). It aims to convince players in green production of hydrogen of the robustness of the technology in order to move towards the next stage of a full-scale demonstrator in the marine environment.
The principle of producing electricity by a pendulum system with a chaotic trajectory was tested in the environment of a wave pool. These results made it possible to validate a first level of performance of a 1/6 scale technological demonstrator incorporating a PEM electrolyser for the in situ production of hydrogen. The scale 1 device will aim for autonomous operation in a marine environment.
Date: 20-24 November 2023
Location: Brussels Expo Place de Belgique 1, 1020 Bruxelles, Belgium