Hydrogen production via mediated electrolysis of biomass

Valorisation of biowaste in the UK is not currently economically viable, having been severely limited by its challenging wet and diverse features. To address this challenge, we will develop and demonstrate a novel biomass electrolysis technology at a capacity of 1kW hydrogen yield and beyond. The process incorporates:

  1. Thermal digestion to abstract protons from biomass using a polyoxometalate (POM) catalyst at mild temperatures
  2. Electrolysis of the reduced POM catalyst solution using a proton exchange membrane (PEM) flow cell to produce pure hydrogen.

The biomass electrolysis process is designated to operate at low temperatures and eliminates the need for an energy-intensive drying process, thereby reducing operational costs. The findings of this project will have a significant impact on hydrogen production from biowaste and will contribute to the decarbonisation efforts of the UK industry.

A near-term strategic aim is to demonstrate a new decarbonisation solution for use in Scottish distilleries, which has the potential to reduce their current carbon emissions by 80%. In the long term, we will explore opportunities to implement this technology in wider sectors such as agriculture and the food and drink industry.

This project is led by Jun Li.