Germany: Research

Solar Power to Chemicals: New Electrolytic Cell Produces Hydrogen Peroxide using Surplus Renewable Energy

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“Our system works without the use of chemicals. Additionally, our production of hydrogen peroxide is extremely flexible. When no surplus power is available, I simply switch off the electrolytic cell,” says Scherer. “Hydrogen peroxide that is not required immediately can be stored in a buffer tank and used as required.”

Modular and scalable prototype

The new electrolytic cell is operated as a flow-through cell. For transference to an industrially relevant scale, further cells can be connected in parallel or in series. Scherer explains the possibilities for scaling: “Individual electrolytic cells can also be stacked, for example as in fuel cell stacks. Such installations can then be designed on the basis of technical requirements and adjusted to the demand for hydrogen peroxide.”

For other application-specific developments and optimizations the process parameters can be modified and subcomponents in the demonstrator, such as the gas diffusion electrode, can easily be exchanged. By altering the temperature, current density, the volume flow and the composition of the solution, for example the pH value and the concentration of the solution can be adapted individually.

Proven operation in water purification

The decentralized electrolytic generation of hydrogen peroxide has already been successfully demonstrated in the field of water treatment. In a research project funded by the European Union, oxidative treatment with locally generated hydrogen peroxide was combined, in one treatment step, with adsorptive removal of contaminants from landfill leachate.

Next, the researchers plan to develop industrial applications where only small consumption volumes are required, for example the hygienization of plants and machines in the food industry or disinfection of surfaces in hospitals. For this purpose the researchers are still looking for interested partners to market the applications.