(Picture 1) Professor Jae-Young Lee of HGU explains the high-temperature water vapor electrolysis hydrogen production system in his lab.
Handong Global University (President Soon-Heung Chang) has opened the Energy Convergence Technology Research Institute (ECTI) and begun research and development of new energy technologies alternating for the shift of the global energy paradigm and the national strategy of the hydrogen economy.
While the use of hydrogen energy is being noted as the future energy, the technological research and development are emerging as the main national assignment and Handong Global University ECTI plans to focus on the value of hydrogen energy, chaining to the production of hydrogen by using high-efficiency fuel cells and innovative technology. This purpose reaches to the production, preservation, transportation, usage of hydrogen.
Currently, hydrogen production is divided by the method to converse and extract fossil fuels, and the hydrolysis method obtained by the extraction of water through electricity. The method of producing modified and subsistence hydrogen causes inevitable impurities such as carbon, nitrogen, sulfur compounds, etc. which the energy cannot be considered as clean energy, and there is a fundamental limit to expanding production by producing hydrogen based on existing fossil fuels. In the case of the hydrolysis method, technical attempts are underway to lower the unit price of catalysts, but long-term investment and research are needed until commercialization, and there is a low-efficiency dilemma if the unit cost of electricity is high to inject for hydrogen production.
ECTI plans to develop a system that enables both high-purity hydrogen production and high-efficiency new and renewable energy power generation by verifying the high-temperature water vapor electrolysis method presented only theoretically. Technology and facilities that electrically decompose high-temperature water vapor to produce hydrogen and generate electricity through solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) are unexplored areas that have not been commercialized not only in Korea but also around the world. ECTI will develop an infrastructure system that can be built for a short time by utilizing existing waste heat generating facilities without investing in large-scale facilities. It will analyze the conditions of optimal efficiency for high-purity hydrogen production and apply them to power generation through fuel cells. In the current situation where there are struggles and errors to expand hydrogen production due to economic, efficient, environmental, and technical problems, ECTI is expected to contribute greatly to expanding the hydrogen market by presenting relatively easy, fast, and economically feasible technological alternatives and routes. It is also expected that it will actively support the plans of North Gyeongsang Province and Pohang City on pushing for the national hydrogen fuel cell power cluster.
ECTI is currently preparing to construct high-purity hydrogen and high-efficiency power generation systems using solid oxide fuel cells and design test models of them. Based on the results of the test, there will also be plans to expand the application of large facilities such as power plants, blast furnaces, incinerators after the demonstration. Even studies and research will be conducted for the development of both household and distributed power generation systems.
Professor Jae-Young Lee of HGU’s School of Mechanical and Control Engineering, who was appointed as the first head of the research institute, is one of the leading experts in the thermal fluid at nuclear reactors in Korea. Professor Lee is leading a Ph.D. level research team to plan in cooperating with domestic and foreign research institutes while also focusing its capabilities on developing a high-temperature water vapor electrolysis hydrogen production system that applies industrial high-temperature waste heat and molten salt reactor technology.
Professor Jae-Young Lee's research team will also contribute to revitalizing the local economy and creating jobs by establishing a cooperative system with LLB Partners Korea Co., Ltd., a local company, and simultaneously promote technology certification, commercialization, and overseas expansion. LLB Partners Korea Co., Ltd. has the experience and know-how in promoting infrastructure development and commercialization strategies in new and renewable energy fields in Australia, one of the leading countries in the global hydrogen market and has major overseas energy infrastructure market business partners.
Professor Lee said "Growth in the global hydrogen market is steep, at a time when the global energy paradigm is changing rapidly. I think the vision of energy exporting countries can also become reality soon through preemptive technology development and commercialization. As it is an area with unlimited potential, we hope that local universities, companies, and local governments can collaborate to lead the hydrogen energy field".
(Picture 2) Professor Jae-Young Lee of HGU and his research team gathered in front of laboratory equipment