Fuel Cells and Renewable Energy Storage Laboratory

In the framework of the IDRO-RIN TRAN-GENESIS national project, TPG developed a laboratory for the analyses related to hydrogen generation (from renewable energy), storage and utilization.
A pressurised alkaline 40 kW PIEL electrolyser was installed, in order to produce H2 at 4 bar: the hydrogen can be can be employed in 2 stacks of PEM fuel cells (5 KW each one) to generate electrical power or can be stored or converted in other chemical composites. Several experimental tests were performed on the electrolyser to investigate the influence of the operative pressure and of the current density on the performance.
In parallel, other experimental tests were carried out on a methanation reactor which is representing a possible solution to use standard generation technologies with hydro-methane (from hydrogen generated from renewable energy and sequestrated CO2). The reaction is carried out on a catalytic bed of Ru-Al2O3 or Ni-Al2O3 at about 4 bar and in a range of temperature from 300°C to 400°C. In order to evaluate the best thermodynamic/chemical conditions (i.e. choice of catalysts, temperature, H2/CO2 ratio, etc.), several tests were carried out at different values of pressure and temperature.
A typical problem related to hydrogen from renewable energy regards the storage technology. For this reason the laboratory was equipped with metal hydride tanks to analyse storing performance (especially the dynamics related to this technology). Moreover, a new test rig was developed in this laboratory to study chemical storage approach. The aim of this plant is the production of a hydrogen stream from a 2.5% NaBH4-water solution. The plant is based on a catalytic reactor fed by the NaBH4 solution with a pump, a control and measurement system to manage the plant and acquire the experimental data, a set of 3 tanks (containing respectively the NaBH4 solution, an emergency reactor shutdown stream, and the exhaust solution) and a system to dry up the produced hydrogen.

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