(Picture 1) HGU Professor Jae-Young Lee explains the high-temperature water vapor electrolysis hydrogen production system in his lab.
Handong Global University (President Soon-Heung Chang) opened the Energy Convergence Technology Research Institute (ECTI) which has begun research and development into alternative energy technologies for the shifting global energy paradigm and national hydrogen economy strategy.
While hydrogen is being promoted as the future of energy, technological research and development has emerged as the main national assignment. Handong Global University’s ECTI plans to focus on the value of hydrogen energy by value adding to the production of hydrogen using high-efficiency fuel cells and innovative technology. This purpose includes the production, preservation, transportation, and usage of hydrogen.
Currently, hydrogen production is divided into two methods. The first reforms fossil fuels and extracts the hydrogen. This method of producing modified and subsistent hydrogen causes inevitable impurities such as carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur compounds and cannot be considered clean energy. There is a fundamental limit to expanding hydrogen production based on existing fossil fuels. The second method is electrolysis which electrolyzes water. In this method, technical attempts are underway to lower the unit price of catalysts, but long-term investment and research are needed until commercialization is realized. There is a low-efficiency dilemma if the unit cost of electricity required for hydrogen production is high.
ECTI plans to produce high-purity hydrogen and high-efficiency new and renewable energy by verifying the theoretical high-temperature steam electrolysis method.
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 in Korea nor elsewhere in the world. ECTI will develop an infrastructure system that can be built quickly by utilizing existing waste heat generating facilities without investing in large-scale facilities. It will analyze the conditions for optimal efficiency of 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, efficiency, 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 in 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 and 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 thermal fluid at nuclear reactors in Korea. Professor Lee is leading a Ph.D. level research team in cooperation 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. Australia is one of the leading countries in the global hydrogen market and has major overseas energy infrastructure market business partners.
Professor Lee said "The global hydrogen market is growing rapidly. At a time when the global energy paradigm is changing rapidly, I think the vision of an energy exporting country 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