An essential ingredient of a sustainable energy framework is the ability to store energy chemically. While hydrogen is a possibility, several issues remain to make it a viable option. The production of either carbon monoxide (CO) or synthesis gas (syngas), a combination of CO and H2, electrochemically from CO2 and H2O is an alternative to hydrogen. Carbon monoxide serves as an important chemical precursor for a number of industrial processes, including Fischer−Tropsch chemistry that could effectively enable the conversion of sunlight into liquid fuels. From syngas, generation of hydrocarbon fuels has the potential to produce carbon neutral products that can be used in the existing transportation infrastructure with minimal modifications. The electrochemical reduction of CO2 is hindered by issues with low energy efficiency due to kinetic limitations. In economic terms, inefficiencies may be less of an issue as alternative electrical sources such as wind and solar are brought online. These sources of electricity tend to be highly variable and require load-leveling technology either in the form of energy storage or conversion to fully realize their economic value. Thus, generating hydrocarbon products from CO2 provides a means to enhance load leveling capabilities for emerging energy systems.
Operation of an electrochemical cell at elevated temperatures promotes improved cell performance as most catalytic or electrochemical steps involved are thermally activated. At the same time, elevated pressure enhances the kinetics of the electro-catalytic reactions, due to the higher solubility and better diffusion of the reacting gas molecules on the active sites.
Parr’s High Pressure Electrolyzer Cell provides a unique and reliable hardware platform with many options for researching different flow-fields, catalysts, membranes, current distributors and process conditions.
Features include the following:
- The electrolyzer cell has a maximum working temperature of 200 °C and a maximum working pressure of 10 MPa (1450 psi).
- Designed for quick assembly and reassembly with drop-in installation guided by alignment pins.
- Constructed with 316 Stainless Steel and a titanium cathode flow plate resulting in high electrical conductivity and improved corrosion resistance. Other materials of construction are available.
- Circular-planar design improves the overall mechanical stability, promotes high material utilization and ease of automated fabrication.
- Built to accept cartridge heaters and thermocouples for temperature measurement and control.
The electrolyzer cell consists of housing, seals, anode and cathode flow-field plates and a membrane electrode assembly (MEA). The anode and cathode housings are made from stainless steel and serve to deliver liquid and gas feeds to the anode and cathode, respectively. Stainless steel was chosen for its chemical inertness to both anode and cathode feeds. The acid-stable cathode flow plate and base-stable stainless steel anode flow plate sandwich the MEA. The anode (316 Stainless Steel) and cathode (Grade 2 Titanium) flow-field plates (active area = 13 cm2) contain spiral channels 0.75 mm wide and 0.65 mm deep with a pitch of 1.3 mm. Stainless steel and titanium were chosen for anode and cathode flow plates, respectively, for their inherent chemical stabilities in basic and acidic conditions, and inactivity towards the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and CO2 reduction reaction (CO2 RR). The entire assembly is sandwiched between the two stainless housings fastened with 8 bolts of 6.35 mm diameter.