Bernal Institute Research Forum

Date: 22nd June 2017 to 22nd June 2017





One hour


MSG-025 MSSI Building Extension

Professor Douglas R. MacFarlane, Australian Centre for Electromaterials Science Monash University, Australia.

Hydrogen and Ammonia as Energy Carriers and for Energy Storage – Progress and Perspectives

Renewable energy conversion into chemical fuels is now recognized as a vital part of the future energy landscape – either as a means of smoothing the intermittency of renewable supplies, or as means of transporting large quantities of renewable energy around the world. Hydrogen and ammonia are two key chemicals at the epicenter of these new technologies. This talk will overview these developments as well as some of the materials and chemical science breakthroughs making them possible. One of the most efficient routes to hydrogen is by electrolysis of water, otherwise known as water splitting. While the technology of water electrolysis is well established, significant advances in efficiency are required to make the process competitive in economic terms. Such advances in efficiency require improvements in catalysts for both the hydrogen evolution reaction (the “HER”) and the oxygen evolution reaction (“OER”). The OER is particularly sluggish and thus much attention has been devoted to understanding and developing new catalysts and media for this reaction. Where the source of the renewable energy is geographically distant from population centers – “sometimes referred to as Stranded Renewables” – the issue of hydrogen storage and transportation arises. One solution to this challenge that is being explored is the use of “renewable” hydrogen to generate liquid ammonia, a chemical that is relatively easily and safely transportable by both pipeline and marine tankers. At point-of-use the ammonia can be converted simply and efficiently into hydrogen (and nitrogen). There is also growing interest in catalysts that could support the direct electro-reduction of atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia.

Professor Doug MacFarlane is an Australian Laureate Fellow at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He is also leader of the Energy Program in the Australian Centre for Electromaterials Science. He has published more than 600 papers and 30 patents, including papers in Science, Nature, and Nature Materials (cited more than 35,000 times, h-index of 86). His interests include ionic liquids as solvents in fields including materials synthesis, electrochemistry, energy chemistry, green chemistry and biotechnology. Professor MacFarlane’s group has contributed cutting edge work to all of these areas (recent papers on electrochemical materials in Nature Materials, on battery electrolytes in Energy and Environmental Science and on bio-fuels processing in Green Chemistry) as well as to the development of the next generations of energy storage devices (recent papers in Nature Communications and Advanced Materials). He was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 2007 and the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 2009. He is currently a member of the Editorial Advisory Boards of Chemical Communications, Green Chemistry, ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, ChemSusChem and Cryobiology. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Alabama, an International Fellow of the Queens University Belfast, and a Visiting Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


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