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Images of particles made from a promising battery cathode material called NMC

Reduced-temperature thermochemical fuel production using phase transitions in entropy-stabilized oxides

TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy

Arun Majumdar, Mechanical Engineering; William Chueh, Materials Science & Engineering

Hydrogen and carbon monoxide are fundamental building blocks in many fuel synthesis reactions. Currently, most H2 is produced via steam reformation powered by methane (USA) or coal (China) resulting in significant greenhouse gas emissions. Discovering a low-cost, carbon-free pathway to produce H2 that could be easily integrated into existing infrastructure would be a scalable solution and significantly decrease the adverse environmental effects of traditional H2 and CO production. This research will explore a new class of materials – entropy stabilized oxides (ESOs) – that harnesses thermal energy during a solid-solid phase transition to thermochemically split water and produce H2 and O2, and to dissociate CO2 to produce CO and O2. A key element of the research will be to reduce the temperature required for water splitting from its current threshold of over 1400°C to ~1000°C so that the process is compatible with the established infrastructure of the chemical industry.  Preliminary research results show that temperature decreases can be accomplished using ESOs. This project will develop a deeper understanding of the underlying science with a goal of predicting the thermodynamics and kinetics of these thermochemical reactions.