Fraunhofer IKTS: Membrane reactors for hydrogen to change green shipping

“Catalytic ceramic membrane reactors allow us to generate hydrogen offshore via methanol-reforming or ammonia cracking and promote its application as a fuel,” said Mohit Jain, Research Associate at German Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems (IKTS).

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At the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference (OEEC) 2023 in Amsterdam, Jain presented Fraunhofer’s hydrogen generation technology using membrane reactors, which is said to be useful for offshore shipping.

According to Jain, Fraunhofer has two technologies; one deals with electrolyzers and the second one, which was the focus of the Fraunhofer OEEC session, uses methanol-reforming.

This technology does not require large hydrogen tanks to be carried on board, making it much safer, Jain noted, also emphasizing the importance of a “virtually” zero-emission propulsion system.

Furthermore, it is said to use carbon membranes, the hydrogen is put directly in the engine and CO2 gets liquefied.

“We obtain a purity of hydrogen more than 90%. The max we got was like 95%,” Jain stated, pointing out a 97% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 45% increase in efficiency compared to the technology with conventional CO2 capturing.

Specifically in regard to the membrane reactor, Jain said the methanol’s energy density is twice as high as liquid hydrogen so the on-board methanol tanks only need to be half the size.

Its transportation is regarded as safer and it is said to be not as corrosive in nature as, for example, ammonia.

Moreover, according to Jain, the reason for using a membrane reactor is that the separation process is being done within the reactor.

“With a little bit more funding, in the coming couple of years, this technology could prove revolutionary,” Jain concluded at the end of the OEEC session.

To note, the reactor design and the actual construction of the reactors were done by Fraunhofer’s collaborator, the German manufacturer MUW.

Watch the full session “Fraunhofer IKTS – How membrane reactors for hydrogen will change green shipping” in the video below:

View on Vimeo.

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