Stephanie Noble, 2012, Chemical Engineering

The hydrogen pump has been proposed as a separation process that optimizes the way in which we make clean fuel—hydrogen—from gasified coal. This process shows promise as an energetically efficient way of providing a higher purity fuel that can be used in a widespread range of applications. It may prove to be both a more efficient process and produce a higher purity yield than the conventional process of alkaline scrubbing. This summer, I joined members of Professor Jay Benzinger’s group in their efforts to confirm the hypothetical performance of a multi-stage hydrogen pump, build a program to analyze the performance and predict optimal parameters under which such a system should operate, and design a single-stage hydrogen pump to be used linearly in a multi-stage construction. Previous multistage designs were assembled and operated in order to study the effectiveness, efficiency, and durability of the process upon which we would improve. The ideal hydrogen pump would have a high energy efficiency, high extent of separation between hydrogen and carbon dioxide, and be ergonomic. We matched these criteria in our single-stage pump design and created a corresponding program that used experimentally determined parameters to return the most energetically efficient voltages at which each pump should operate.