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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/Y003543/1
Title: Sustainable, Low-cost and Durable Polymers for Green Hydrogen Conversion Technologies
Principal Investigator: Ismail, Dr M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
IMI Critical Engineering Kyushu University (Japan) Toyota
Department: Chemical Engineering
Organisation: University of Hull
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 March 2024 Ends: 28 February 2026 Value (£): 165,679
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Sustainable Energy Vectors
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 May 2023 ECR International Collaboration Grants Panel 3 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Green hydrogen will play a crucial role in decarburisation. It can be generated from water using renewable energy in an electrolyser or used to generate electricity from a fuel cell. However, the high capital cost of electrochemical devices is a roadblock to mass commercialisation. A major factor in the cost is the membrane electrolyte, conventionally an expensive sulfonated fluoropolymer. Fluoropolymers are also associated with ecologically damaging "forever chemicals" which are facing increasing scrutiny.

Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is a biodegradable and cheap polymer. As proof-of-concept, the partners at Kyushu University (Japan) have, for the first time, shown that the PVA based membranes have: low gas permeability and sufficient ionic conductivity for power generation in fuel cells when chemically modified with sulfonic acid groups.

Building upon the above novel work, PVA will be investigated as an alternative membrane electrolyte for fuel cells and electrolysers. The Japanese partner will perform the chemical and mechanical modification of the PVA membranes; extensively characterising them; and then testing them in real-life fuel cells and electrolysers to evaluate their performance and durability under different conditions. On the other hand, the UK team will use the generated data from experiments to perform simulations of PVA membrane-containing fuel cells and electrolysers through multiphysics modelling, predicting how they will perform in electrochemical systems under a wide variety of conditions. The computational data will be simultaneously used to inform the experimental part of the project to shorten the design cycle and save materials and time. A good number of mutual research visits will be organised to gain hands-on experience on the experimental part (synthesis, characterisation and testing of PVA containing membranes) by the UK team, and on the modelling part (building and running multiphysics models for fuel cells and electrolysers) by the Japanese team.

The outcome of this collaborative research will be: an improved understanding of the behaviour of PVA based membranes in electrochemical systems; the development of a new class of low cost and more sustainable membrane electrolytes for green hydrogen applications; and the establishment of a research network between the UK and Japan for sharing expertise and know-how in the highly strategic research discipline of green hydrogen generation and utilisation.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.hull.ac.uk