Editorial Feature

Behavior of Hydrogen Adsorption in Australian Sub-Bituminous Coal

Hydrogen—a clean energy source—potentially replaces fossil fuels in a hydrogen economy, therefore, alleviating climate change. One of the main hindrances in the transition to a decarbonized energy society is the lack of storage space for industrial-scale hydrogen (H2). This article looks at Keshavarz et al.'s study looking at hydrogen diffusion in coal and its implications for hydrogen geo‐storage. The research was published in Journal of Colloid and Interface Science.

hydrogen, coal

 Image Credit: Alexander Limbach/Shutterstock.com

It is important to find new solutions for widespread hydrogen storage. Hydrogen underground storage (UHS) is one option that has been suggested in this context. Here, H2 is stored in underground geological formations, such as salt caverns or depleted oil and gas reservoirs.

In the recent research, the team studied the behavior of hydrogen adsorption in an Australian sub-bituminous coal sample. In the current literature, however, no data is available for hydrogen adsorption rate or diffusion kinetics. Hence, in this work, the researchers quantified such kinetic parameters in an Australian coal sample. This study offers basic petrophysical data for UHS and thereby helps in the large-scale hydrogen economy implementation.

Methodology

On an Australian anthracite sample, H2 and CO2 kinetic sorption tests were conducted. Using a blade grinder, the coal sample was ground to <500 µm. A size fraction of 250–500 µm was employed for the kinetic experiments. The coal was completely analyzed, and final and proximate analyses, helium density, and petrographic analyses findings are presented in Table 1.

Table 1. Essential analysis properties of the tested Australian anthracite coal sample. Source: Keshavarz, et al., 2022

Approximate Analysis
Moisture Content (wt%) Ash Content
(wt%)
Volatile Content
(wt%)
Fixed Carbon
(wt%)
Carbonate Carbon
2.5 13.8 13.8 69.9 0.048
Petrographic Analysis
Vitrinite
(Vol %)
Liptinite
(Vol %)
Inertinite
(Vol %)
Mineral Matter
(Vol %)
Vitrinite Reflectance
(Rv, max %)
58.7 33.3 8 4.86
Ultimate Analysis
Carbon (wt%) Hydrogen (wt%) Nitrogen (wt%) sulfur Sulfur Oxygen (wt%) Relative
Density
77.7 2.58 0.94 0.54 18.24 1.54

 

The experimental setup’s schematic view is illustrated in Figure 1.

Experimental set up: 1. Sample cell; 2. Coal sample; 3. Manual valve; 4. Automatic valves; 5. Pressure transducers; 6. Big reference cell; 7. Small reference cell; 8. Temperature controller; 9. Vacuum line; 10. Vent line; 11. Test gas line; 12. Calibration gas line; 13. Control panel and data acquisition system.

Figure. 1. Experimental set up: 1. Sample cell; 2. Coal sample; 3. Manual valve; 4. Automatic valves; 5. Pressure transducers; 6. Big reference cell; 7. Small reference cell; 8. Temperature controller; 9. Vacuum line; 10. Vent line; 11. Test gas line; 12. Calibration gas line; 13. Control panel and data acquisition system. Image Credit: Keshavarz, et al., 2017

In Table 2, parameters linked to H2, and CO2 diffusion are tabulated.

Table 2. H2 and CO2 diffusion parameters and sorption capacities, at equilibrium pressure (approximately 13 bar), for the tested coal at different temperatures. Source: Keshavarz, et al., 2022

T (°C) H2
β 1/t0 (s−1) D (m2/s) 10-9 RMS* sorption capacity at equilibrium pressure (12.78–13.03 bar)
20 0.34 0.0702 0.9866 0.02 0.23
20 0.33 0.0936 1.3159 0.02 0.26
20 0.35 0.1113 1.5657 0.02 0.22
30 0.33 0.1145 1.6096 0.02 0.28
30 0.35 0.1223 1.7195 0.01 0.28
30 0.39 0.1865 2.6224 0.01 0.24
45 0.40 0.2756 3.8756 0.01 0.23
60 0.39 0.4819 6.7762 0.01 0.21
  CO2
20 0.32 0.0114 0.1607 0.02 1.22
30 0.37 0.0132 0.1852 0.02 1.21
45 0.35 0.0163 0.2297 0.01 1.28
45 0.40 0.0215 0.3027 0.02 1.18
45 0.40 0.0207 0.2904 0.01 1.00
60 0.35 0.0226 0.3174 0.02 1.10
60 0.36 0.0246 0.3465 0.02 1.09
60 0.37 0.0188 0.2648 0.02 1.09

 

Results and Discussion

Evidently, adsorption of H2 and CO2 reached equilibrium quicker at a higher temperature, as anticipated (Figure 2). Such quicker equilibration was made to occur by the improved gas molecular kinetic energy at greater temperatures.

Comparing H2 and CO2 adsorption rate parameters: Adsorption rate profile for H2 and CO2 as a function of temperature (equilibrium pressures were in the range of 12.78–13.03 bar in all H2 and CO2 kinetics tests).

Figure. 2. Comparing H2 and CO2 adsorption rate parameters: Adsorption rate profile for H2 and CO2 as a function of temperature (equilibrium pressures were in the range of 12.78–13.03 bar in all H2 and CO2 kinetics tests). Image Credit: Keshavarz, et al., 2022

Moreover, in all diffusion tests (that is, for both H2 and CO2), β was nearly constant (β = 0.36 ± 7.5%) (see Table 2 and Figure 3).

Also, 1/t0, and, as a result, D—the diffusion coefficient, increased as temperature increased for both gases (see Figure 4 and Table 2).

ß values for H2 and CO2 tests at different temperatures.

Figure. 3. β values for H2 and CO2 tests at different temperatures. Image Credit: Keshavarz, et al., 2022

Moreover, it is well-known that gas adsorption (along with that of CO2 and H2) decreases with an increase in temperature (see Figure 4).

H2 and CO2 diffusion coefficients at different temperatures

Figure. 4. H2 and CO2 diffusion coefficients at different temperatures. Image Credit: Keshavarz, et al., 2022

Furthermore, increasing the temperature increased the H2–CO2 diffusion coefficient ratio, whereas the H2–CO2 adsorption ratio stayed the same (see Figure 5).

Diffusion coefficient ratio (H2/CO2) and sorption capacity ratio (CO2/H2) at different temperatures.

Figure. 5. Diffusion coefficient ratio (H2/CO2) and sorption capacity ratio (CO2/H2) at different temperatures. Image Credit: Keshavarz, et al., 2022

It is to be noted that for all tested temperatures, CO2 adsorption ability was considerably higher than that of H2 (by five times approximately), whereas adsorption capability decreased slightly for both gases with an increase in temperature (see Figure 6).

H2 and CO2 adsorption capacities at equilibrium pressure (12.78–13.03 bar) as a function of temperature.

Figure. 6. H2 and CO2 adsorption capacities at equilibrium pressure (12.78–13.03 bar) as a function of temperature. Image Credit: Keshavarz, et al., 2022

Conclusion

Even though gas diffusion in coal is a well-established phenomenon, there is a severe lack of data for hydrogen diffusion in coal, majorly owing to the novelty of the geologic hydrogen storage concept.

Hence, in this study, depending on already reported gas diffusion measurements in coal, the researchers quantified kinetic adsorption profiles of H2 for four different temperatures (20 °C, 30 °C, 45 °C, and 60 °C) and equilibrium pressures of ∼13 bar on an Australian anthracite coal sample at isothermal conditions. CO2 diffusion coefficients were quantified for the same sample at similar equilibrium pressure and temperatures for comparison.

The results reveal that a higher temperature results in a higher rate of H2 and CO2 adsorption, but leads to a lower gas adsorption capacity. They also show that H2 diffusion coefficients are larger than the equivalent CO2 diffusion coefficients with one order of magnitude. The H2−CO2 diffusion coefficient ratio improved from 10 at 20 °C to 22 at 60 °C.

Furthermore, CO2 adsorption capacities are approximately five times larger than the equivalent H2 adsorption capacities, at all studied temperatures and equilibrium pressure (∼13 bar). In addition, H2 kinetic research is underway to find the coal characteristics’ effect on H2 diffusion in coal.

Journal Reference:

Keshavarz, A., Abid, H., Ali, M., Iglauer, S. (2022) Hydrogen diffusion in coal: Implications for hydrogen geo‐storage. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science. Volume 608, Part 2, P. 1457–1462. Available Online: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021979721017276.

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Laura Thomson

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Laura Thomson

Laura Thomson graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with an English and Sociology degree. During her studies, Laura worked as a Proofreader and went on to do this full time until moving on to work as a Website Editor for a leading analytics and media company. In her spare time, Laura enjoys reading a range of books and writing historical fiction. She also loves to see new places in the world and spends many weekends looking after dogs.

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