Chemical storage

Renewable sources of energy, such as wind farms and solar panels, do not deliver continuous energy. To make full use of these sources, energy storage becomes important. New storage methods should be aimed at storing energy on a large scale and with a minimum of energy loss. Chemical energy storage – for example in batteries, hydrogen or NH3 – looks the most promising.

Research at the TU Delft

Hydrogen can be produced in various ways and then converted into electricity using a fuel cell. The next step is to produce artificial fuels from hydrogen such as natural gas (CH4) or ammonia (NH3). Liquid artificial compounds such as NH3 have high energy density and are easy to transport and store. It is not yet possible to produce electricity from NH3 at a reasonable level of efficiency, but NH3 is an important raw material and its sustainable production reduces CO2 emissions. It may well be possible in the long run to produce electricity from these complex molecules too. A range of new technologies is therefore needed to guarantee the stability of the power grid when incorporating fluctuating sources such as wind and solar power on a large scale.

TU Delft is developing technology to store energy from sustainable sources efficiently and on the right scale. This work is taking place in the following research areas:

Batteries

At Delft we are working on improving lithium-ion batteries, with the emphasis on greater capacity, safety and lower cost. In future new battery concepts will be needed, with higher storage capacity and faster charging and discharging rates.

For the stationary storage of electrical energy we are conducting research into batteries based on metal hydrides (Mg and NiFi). <link en faculty-of-applied-sciences about-faculty departments chemical-engineering about-the-department mecs research-projects large-scale-electricity-storage _blank>Read more

Hydrogen

At present a lot of hydrogen is produced from natural gas: an efficient process, but one that releases CO2. At Delft we are looking into how to make hydrogen more environmentally friendly, for example using sunlight and water. This involves developing affordable, sustainable, efficient photoelectrodes.

  • Researchers at TU Delft are also looking for alternatives to the current method of storing hydrogen, such as metal hydrides, known as ‘MOFs’ (Metal-Organic Frameworks).
  • In order to improve fuel cell efficiency, the researchers are developing new membranes to increase the operating temperature to 200 ºC. Research is also being carried out into solid oxide fuel cells that work at an even higher temperature, which are particularly suitable for stationary use.
  • Membranes that can separate hydrogen from e.g. carbon monoxide or methane gas are needed for the energy-efficient production of fuel cells. Read more
  • Hydrogen sensors detect the presence and concentration of hydrogen gas. The current sensors are very expensive and need to be constantly recalibrated. At Delft we are looking into new, cheap, reliable types of hydrogen detection technology. Read more

Artificial hydrocarbons

A new line of research is the photoelectrochemical conversion of CO2 into CO, which will enable hydrocarbons to be synthesised artificially using H2. Read more here and here.

Ammonia

Research is being carried out at TU Delft into ways of storing energy in ammonia. The advantages are that the raw materials, water and nitrogen, are readily available and no CO2 is released from combustion. Ammonia is also easy to store. Read more.

Car as Power Plant

The Car as Power Plant project is looking into the various aspects of hydrogen-powered cars. Read more here and here.