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Catalysts, Catalytic Processes, and Materials for Renewable Energy Use and Storage

A recently issued technical investigation commissioned by the members of the Catalytic Advances Program (CAP) details recent advancements in renewable energy use and storage

See PPT Deck here (as PDF) | See Report TofC here (as PDF)

This TCGR report analyzes the role, gaps and prospects for using catalysis and related technologies and materials to address renewable energy storage and use. The scenario for renewable energy is fast changing, with the International Energy Agency (IEA) significantly increasing their prediction for renewable energy capacity (now indicated to increase by over 50% by 2024) in their Renewables 2019 report with respect to the same report made one year before (Renewables 2018).

Now predictions for 2024 are of a production of over 1200 GW, with distributed PV as one of the largest growing technologies, predicted to grow by 250% over the period. Wind power, hydropower and bioenergy will also have large increases. The reason is a combination of economics, geopolitics, sustainability, social and other aspects, all of which need to be analysed to understand the possibilities for science and innovation, as well as business in this growing area. 

The two relevant questions for renewable energy, are:

  1. how to store it
  2. how to use it, in particular to substitute the use of fossil fuels
Figure 1: Simplified scheme of the possible transition from the current petrochemical industry to a chemical production economy based on the full substitution of fossil fuels. Source: Catalysts, Catalytic Processes, and Materials for Renewable Energy Use and Storage (TCGR, 2020)

There is progressively converging thinking from both academia and industry that the same final compounds could be made by harnessing renewable energy instead of utilizing hydrocarbons and emitting waste carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air. 

  • First, renewable electricity would split abundant molecules such as CO2, water, oxygen (O2), and nitrogen into reactive fragments.
  • Then, more renewable electricity would help stitch those chemical pieces together to create the products that modern society relies on and is unlikely to give up.

In integrating biomass use and the “circular economy”, it is possible to consider and realize chemical production not based on fossil fuels, or probably more realistic that over 50% of fossil use is avoided in chemical industry between 2030 and 2050. Biohydrogen, as part of the more general topic of green H2 produced by water photo/electro conversion using renewable energy sources (RES), is an area of increasing relevance. Electrochemical hydrogen storage has been recently proposed as an alternative to physical and chemical methods. In terms of industrial readiness hydrogen production from water electrolysis is by far ahead of the other possibilities, such as CO2 or N2 activation. Major efforts are driven towards photoelectrocatalysis, by integration of electrolyzers working in aqueous media and powered by sunlight. In power to gas projects, hydrogen is superior to methane and other options in terms of both process cost and simplicity.

TCGR’s deep analysis and timely report addresses real-world, industrially-focused challenges…

As in other TCGR reports, the focus is on the more recent developments, with the background analysis limited to necessary aspects to understand the topic, and with the discussion and analysis oriented to highlight trends, novel aspects and prospects as well as current gaps. This report thus provides a window to the future of this important area of catalysis, which will certainly be a key technology in the next decades.

The PPT Deck as well as a PDF containing the completed report’s TofC, List of Figures and Tables are available for download below:

See PPT Deck here (as PDF) | See Report TofC here (as PDF)

More information about this report and other services of CAP can be seen at https://www.catalystgrp.com/tcg-resources/member-programs/catalytic-advances-program/.
Call +1-215-628-4447 or e-mail Chris Dziedziak at cdziedziak@catalystgrp.com, and we’ll be happy to discuss these and other interesting membership benefits.

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The Catalyst Group Resources (TCGR), a member of The Catalyst Group, is dedicated to monitoring and analyzing technical and commercial developments in catalysis as they apply to the global refining, petrochemical, fine/specialty chemical, pharmaceutical, polymer/elastomer and environmental industries.