The meso scale
Transport Phenomena, Reactor Engineering & Process Intensification, Energy Technology & System Engineering
The next frontier is in translating the insights obtained by studying the microscale processes into practical tools to design, engineer and optimise the reactor component and process system design.
Electrosynthesis involves transport of chemicals and ionic/electrical charge across a range of length scales. We aim at full process control through a detailed determination of the limiting effects of mass, charge and heat transfer (including multi-component and multi-phase flow) and optimisation of the porous structures of electrodes and membranes.
Reactor engineering & process intensification
The development of continuously operating electrochemical flow reactors requires geometry assessment, advanced engineering and a scaling-up approach. We aim for an optimal balance between operation towards maximal selectivity and allowing for (in-situ) separation of useful products. To deal with process fluctuations, pulsed reactions and the effects of fouling, we aim to enable validation from the reactor level down to the in-situ electrode level.
Energy technology & systems engineering
Large-scale electrochemistry-based processes for fuels and bulk chemicals production are in an early stage of development. We aim for solutions to deal with fluctuations in power characteristics, to determining the gas-cleaning requirements for a wide variety of CO2 sources for carbon-based e-Refinery products, and to arrive at optimal process system efficiencies.
Example: Electricity storage and hydrogen production in a single system
While batteries are best for short-term energy storage, synthetically produced fuels such as hydrogen are most suitable for long-term storage. Researchers at the Materials for Energy Conversion & Storage group at TU Delft developed the first integrated battery-and-electrolysis system. This so-called ‘battolyser’ stores and supplies electricity very efficiently as a battery. When the battery is full, it automatically starts splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis at an outstanding overall efficiency of up to 90%. The battolyser is effectively in service the whole time, storing power, producing hydrogen or supplying power to the grid. It provides an efficient, cheap, large-scale, robust way of storing electricity that can be switched back and forth between electricity and hydrogen as often as needed.