Research in this area is focused on sustainable production of H2 via steam reforming of fossil and renewable feedstocks.
Activities in hydrogen production using renewable feedstocks include the use of model compounds like acetic acid, ethylene glycol, acetone representative of lighter fractions of bio-oil. Highlights of the work conducted include the development of Rh catalyst supported on La modified CeO2-ZrO2 which shows high activity and stability in converting acetic acid to H2 rich gases with minimal coke deposition. Extensive studies under transient conditions with isotopically labeled oxygenate helped to clarify the role of reducible oxidic support and metal to product formation pathways.
The efforts in methane steam reforming are directed towards the development of catalysts with high activity at low temperature (<500oC) to be employed in membrane reactor configurations. Emphasis in put on the minimization of coking by tuning the support and catalyst formulation, and the understanding of the mechanism for methane activation and coke formation. Both noble and base metal catalysts on La doped CeO2-ZrO2 proved efficient catalysts for activation of methane and promotion of H2 formation with high reaction rates and minimal coke deposition. Steady state and transient tests are used for acquiring kinetic data.
Intensification in hydrogen production by combining reaction and separation together is in the core of LPT activities. Steam reforming of natural gas is conducted in the presence of a suitable sorbent enabling the continuous removal of CO2 products, thus shifting the equilibrium of steam reforming and water gas shift reaction producing thus hydrogen with a purity >95% in a single step. The concept is known as sorption enhanced reforming, SER. Efforts are directed towards the development of efficient high temperature CO2 sorbents based on CaO, the synthesis of multifunctional materials serving as catalysts and sorbents and reactor studies. Recently the SER concept was further refined with the combination of chemical looping also to further decrease the energy input in the system and the carbon foorprint. In addition to sorbents, oxygen carrier materials have been developed and the proof of concept of the two looping system has been successfully tested in fixed and fluid bed reactor system. Experimental work is complemented with reactor modelling work.