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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X030229/1
Title: Power to Liquids Research Facility
Principal Investigator: Webb, Dr P
Other Investigators:
Agnew, Dr G Irvine, Professor J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of St Andrews
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 03 January 2023 Ends: 02 January 2027 Value (£): 1,774,557
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Catalysis & Applied Catalysis Materials Characterisation
Sustainable Energy Vectors
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Chemicals Energy
Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
22 Nov 2022 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel November 2022 - Panel 1 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Achieving climate targets within legislated timescales will be predicated on decarbonizing the production and use of energy, responsible for approximately two thirds of anthropogenic emissions. To meet the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development goals, energy supply would need to fully decarbonize by 2050, if not before. This transition from a fossil fuel based economy will require mechanisms for dealing with the intermittency of renewable energy, such as storage in batteries or supercapacitors. However, both of these technologies are limited in energy density and create contention for critical minerals that make them unaffordable for longer mission applications. A more scalable approach is to use surplus energy for the production of hydrogen as an energy vector, via the electrolysis of water (Power-to-Hydrogen). The UK Hydrogen Strategy sets out a whole-systems approach to developing the hydrogen economy as a critical enabler of achieving net zero targets and is concerned primarily with the use of hydrogen in the energy system. However, green hydrogen will also play a key role in the important task of decarbonising the production of fuels and chemicals. To reduce emissions, the chemicals sector must begin to use sources of above ground carbon (e.g. biomass, carbon dioxide), but this brings its own unique set of challenges. These sustainable feedstocks are compositionally very different to fossil fuels, being rich in oxygen and lean in hydrogen, requiring the development of new routes to the high value products that have historically been derived from crude oil. One approach is to alleviate the feedstock hydrogen deficiency through reactions with green hydrogen, which enables the electrification of fuels and chemicals production. Often referred to as Power-to-Liquids (or Power-to-X), this sustainable route to chemicals has the potential for creating carbon neutral or even carbon negative processes if biogenic carbon dioxide can be removed efficiently from the natural carbon cycle. Building on our core expertise in energy storage, electrolyser technology and industrial process development our aim is to establish a Power-to-Liquids research facility. This unique facility will enable world-leading research into decarbonising the production of energy, fuels and chemicals using only water, waste streams and components of air (nitrogen and carbon dioxide) as feedstocks. The facility will be founded on fundamental research harnessing state of the art infrastructure designed to accelerate technology development. High throughput experimentation, using multiple fixed-bed reactor systems, will provide the cornerstone of discovery phase R&D. Catalyst candidates and process conditions identified in this first stage will be further optimised in a second system that enables exploration of the integration between electrolysis and chemical transformation steps. Synthesis processes for common storable molecules are exothermic, while electrolysis is inherently strongly endothermic. Close coupling of these processes both thermally and chemically offers to unlock radical increases in whole system efficiency that will extend the decarbonising impact of precious renewable resources. Through close collaboration with the National Manufacturing Institute of Scotland (NMIS), the latest advanced manufacturing research will be applied to developing new integrated subsystems that can be rapidly scaled by volume manufacturing so that critical decarbonisation targets can be met.
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Organisation Website: http://www.st-and.ac.uk