Impact expected from the call

 

DECORE impact

Exploitation of renewable, efficient, and inexpensive sources for alternative energy production.

EOH is an inexpensive source: it can be produced as bioethanol by fermentation of lignocellulose, which uses crop or wood as precursors (resulting in a neutral carbon footprint). It is an abundant resource, easily prepared and storable, with a high volumetric energy density. Reaching the goal of a FC capable of efficiently transforming the chemical energy of EOH into electricity (DEFC) would have a real economic and social impact on the current scenery of alternative energy production.

Improving the performance of existing industrial processes for energy production.

Low-temperature DEFCs have been already developed as prototypes. As an example, various prototypes of DEFC based mobile phone chargers were built featuring voltages from 2V to 7V and powers from 800mW to 2W.

However intermediate-T is required for an economic and efficient conversion of EOH into CO2. A rational search for the appropriate materials required to accomplish such a task has not yet been explored.

The success in such a task would open a new market for DEFC.

Rational catalyst design.

The programmed activities of DECORE will imply studies both on model systems and on real high-surface area catalysts (MCx/TiOxCy assemblies between TiOxCy porous powders and MCx nano-powders), exploring also scaling up economical procedures, which would take the proposal up to the final application of the designed anodes for intermediate-T DEFCs.

The successive rational steps needed to bring about the mentioned impacts are:

-explore alternative supports to standard carbon-based ones, which can withstand the required temperature of exercise (TiOxCy-based support);

-explore the EOR activity of the MCx-based catalysts at high temperature, both on the innovative support (i.e. MCx/TiOxCy) and as an all-in-one catalyst/support MCx material.

Fast industrialisation of tailor-made, catalytic materials of very high activity and selectivity.

The participation of one industrial partner (ELCOMAX GmbH), active in the field of HT-PEM-FC, and one research lab (ICCOM-CNR), specialised in DEFC development, has been designed in all the stages of DECORE, i.e. from the strategic decisions in the tailoring of the materials up to the functionality and durability tests by adopting industrial protocols. A final bench-top single DEFC will be developed to carry out efficiency tests.  These steps provide technological, process development and also commercial expertise to the project, thus ensuring a fast track for a final industrialisation of the DECORE outcomes.

Reduce Europe's reliance on imported rare earths/precious metals.

Among the components in a PEM-FC, Pt-based electrodes contribute over 55% of the total costs. DECORE will explore the use of innovative nano-catalysts (based on group 6 metal carbides, MCx, M=Mo,W), which have the capability to mimic the electronic properties of Pt.

Demonstrating an activity of such catalysts towards EOR at intermediate-T would open a novel route where the DEFC production cost reduction would have an enormous impact on DEFC industrialisation.

If the activity of the carbide catalysts would be inadequate, a contingency plan will be developed where small amounts of Pt would be introduced to enhance the final performances.