PhD opportunities

PROVIDED - Hydrogen production from nitrogen-based compounds decomposition for proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC)

Thesis proposal

Area of expertiseEnergétique et génie des procédés
Doctoral SchoolSystems Engineering, Materials, Mechanics, Energy
SupervisorM. Christian BEAUGER
Co-supervisorM. Pedro Henriqu AFFONSO NÓBREGA
Research unitEnergy and Processes
Starting dateOctober 1st 2020
KeywordsHydrogen, Nitrogen, catalysis, electrolysis, fuel cell
AbstractContext and challenges
The hydrogen-energy sector will only be viable if hydrogen can be produced cleanly and distributed easily. Ammonia has long been considered a hydrogen vector with high potential for mobility. It has a high density of hydrogen which can be released without pollutants for PEMFCs. Dissolved in water it can be made available everywhere and may present an interest as a hydrogen vector for limited power applications. This is true also for other solutions of nitrogen compounds.

Scientific objectives
The proposed exploratory research work will focus on three ways of producing hydrogen from targeted nitrogen compounds, the electrochemical, biochemical and thermal routes, respectively, to assess their interest in order to power a PEMFC in different applications. Based on theoretical and experimental studies, the aim will be to assess the feasibility of producing hydrogen from the chosen precursors and to compare the different routes envisaged, to study the overall yield of the reactions implemented and to deduce an energy balance permitting to judge the relevance of each studied reaction. The experimental studies must characterize, for different process parameters, the products of the reactions to see if it is possible to obtain only simple molecules, typically H2, N2, even CO2 and possibly O2 if the dissociation of the water molecule is feasible under certain conditions. This will allow to evaluate the use of the process output to feed a fuel cell, as well as an eventual need for a purification step

A hydrogen production test bench must be realized, flexible enough to allow the implementation of the various decomposition routes and precursors and the analysis of the reaction products as well as their quantification.
The study has a strong experimental character but can rely on any type of modeling that seems necessary.
Provided that no critical pollutant for fuel cells are emitted, it is planned to produce a compact hydrogen generator and to couple it to a PEM fuel cell. It will then be necessary to characterize the operation of the entire coupled system.

Expected results
• Comparative study of the different routes envisaged.
• Design of a hydrogen production test bench (electrochemical cell, catalytic reactor for biochemical and thermal routes, analysis of the reaction products…).
• Conversion yields and energy balance of the decomposition reactions from selected nitrogen precursors, study of their kinetics…
• Design and realization of a prototype reactor and coupling to a PEMFC type fuel cell for performance study.
ProfileTypical profile for a thesis at MINES ParisTech: Engineer and / or Research Master - Good level of general and scientific knowledge. Good level of practice of French and English. Good analytical, synthesis, innovation and communication skills. Adaptability and creativity. Teaching skills. Motivation for research activity, in particular experimental. Coherent professional project.
Prerequisites (specific skills for this thesis): Good knowledge in physicochemistry, electrochemistry, catalysis, reactors and process engineering. Knowledge of biochemistry and enzymatic catalysis would be a plus.

To apply: send CV + a cover letter to Christian Beauger
FundingContrat de recherche