Hydrogen generation from biomass derived glycerol using sorption enhanced reaction processes

This research aims towards developing a technology that converts biomass derived glycerol to hydrogen with simultaneous carbon capture, using the concept of sorption enhanced steam reforming. EU currently produces approximately 6.8 billion litres of biodiesel per annum, which yields ~0.68 million tons of crude glycerol. Although a small portion of the crude glycerol is purified for pharmaceutical and food applications, the majority of it is taken as waste. With an increase in the biodiesel production in the future, the amount of waste glycerol will certainly present a big challenge. None of the published literature on hydrogen production processes from glycerol reports a combination of high glycerol conversion and high H2 selectivity, which could reduce the requirements for the purification stage. The novelty of the proposed approach is the use of in-situ removal of CO2 and ex-situ regeneration of CO2 adsorbent, thus enabling a continuous operation of the reactor, direct delivery of hydrogen at the reactor pressure, the use of relatively low capacity adsorbent, introduction of more physical heat to the reactor, and intensification of heat transfer within the reactor.The technological challenges include (i) achieve the controlled flow of adsorbent particles so that they can match with the local demand of CO2 adsorption, (ii) overcoming possible interactions between adsorbent and catalyst particles, and (iii) optimise heat transfer to and within the reactor for maximum heat integration. Other challenges include assessing the potential for tar and carbon formation, and determine the conditions which best avoid their occurrence, determining the role and fate of impurities in the crude glycerol, provide the materials life cycle analysis of the process, and take a green engineering approach to the process while achieving a high purity H2 product.