In order to achieve carbon neutrality, the use of carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the greenhouse gases, is essential in parallel with the use of hydrogen. A variety of technologies and initiatives called Carbon Recycling that actively use CO2 are in progress.
Particular attention is now being paid to CCS (CO2 Capture and Storage) technology, which captures and stores atmospheric CO2 and CO2 generated from plants and power plants, and CCUS (CO2 Capture, Utilization and Storage) technology, which effectively utilizes it.
The hydrogen produced by combining CCUS with the fossil fuel-derived gray hydrogen production method is called "blue hydrogen" because it is CO2-free and clean.
Methanation, which uses hydrogen obtained from water by renewable energy is reacted with CO2 to synthesize methane (CH4), is a technology to synthesize chemicals using CO2 as a raw material, and "artificial photosynthesis," which uses solar energy to convert water and CO2 into hydrogen and organic compounds., Carbon recycling technologies include "methaneation", which synthesizes methane (CH4) by reacting hydrogen obtained from water using renewable energy with CO2, technology for synthesizing chemicals using CO2 as a raw material, and "artificial photosynthesis" that converts water and CO2 into hydrogen and organic compounds using solar energy.
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There are many methods of carbon capture (CC) that contribute to the CCS and CCUS processes, but the most common method is to contact the gas containing CO2 with an adsorbent or adsorbent material to adsorb the CO2 and separate and recover it. The amine method is a typical example.
The recovered CO2 will be refined to a level appropriate for its intended use as a resource, and used as a raw material for synthetic fuels such as methanation and artificial photosynthesis.
We contribute to the production of high-quality CO2 by measuring and monitoring the concentration of CO2 and other impurity gases, including those before and after this separation, recovery, and purification process. Research and development of adsorbent materials that improve the performance of adsorption and regeneration of adsorbents is also underway.
Hydrogen production in various industries involves a gas separation, recovery, and purification process to remove impurity gases (CO, CO2, CH4, SO2), and then refining and producing hydrogen to a level consistent with each application.
To confirm that the impurity gas has reached this level of hydrogen, trace gases in the hydrogen need to be measured and monitored in real time.
Separation, recovery, and purification: For example, in the amine process, monitoring the reaction of CO2 with amine in the absorption tower and its recovery is necessary for optimal plant control. For this, it is important to measure and monitor the CO2 gas. Measuring and monitoring the pH and conductivity of the amine solution is also necessary for stable operation of the process.
Synthetic fuels are fuels made by synthesizing CO2 and hydrogen, and are expected to be one of the carbon recycling technologies. Synthetic fuels made from green hydrogen (CO2-free hydrogen derived from renewable energy) are also called "e-fuel".
One of these technologies, methanation is expected to be put to practical use as a technology that can synthesize methane (CH4) through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and CO2 after electrolysis of water into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity derived from renewable energy sources, or synthesize methane from synthesis gas (mixture of H2 and CO) obtained through co-electrolysis of water and CO2.
Methane is used as a raw material for liquefied natural gas (LNG) for city gas and methanol. Methane produced in this way is also called "synthetic methane" or "carbon-neutral methane".
It is necessary to measure and monitor the concentrations of highly concentrated hydrogen and CO2, which are the raw materials for methanation, as well as the synthesized methane gas.
The main technologies of methanation include the Sabatier reaction technology, in which hydrogen produced by water electrolysis is reacted with CO2 in the Sabatier reactor to produce methane, and the co-electrolysis technology, in which water and CO2 are electrolyzed simultaneously to produce hydrogen and CO in the methanation reactor to produce methane.
Compared to Sabatier reaction technology, co-electrolysis technology is superior in terms of energy conversion efficiency because it has less heat loss from waste heat generated during the reaction.
Technology that uses CO2 as a raw material for chemical reactions to produce chemicals and storable energy (hydrogen, methanol, methane, etc.) is another important component of carbon recycling.
Of these, artificial photosynthesis is a technology that uses solar energy to synthesize chemicals such as olefins using water and CO2 as raw materials. It is called "artificial photosynthesis" because it resembles the way plants photosynthesize from sunlight and CO2. Research and development of more efficient photocatalysts is underway with the aim of realizing a decarbonized society.
There are many methods of Carbon Capture (CC) that contribute to the CCS/CCUS process, but the most common method is to contact the gas containing CO2 with an adsorbent solution or adsorbent material to adsorb the CO2 and then separate and recover it.
Catalysts are also the key to chemical reactions in chemical synthesis and artificial photosynthesis.
Catalysts are indispensable for carbon recycling. They are substances that work to accelerate chemical reactions. In order for catalysts to function as designed and to fully utilize their performance, various analyses and evaluations are required in materials research and quality control. The key point, especially in artificial photosynthesis, is to improve the "solar energy conversion efficiency" of photocatalysts to achieve low-cost, efficient, and mass production of chemicals.
We propose various material analysis applications that are useful for material development of highly efficient catalysts and evaluation of reaction characteristics.
- Crystallinity evaluation: Raman spectroscopy is useful for looking at the structure of adsorbents.
- Particle size management: For solid adsorbents, the adsorbent is made into a powder or porous form to make the surface area as large as possible. Checking the particle size distribution helps to manage the surface area of the adsorbent.
- Pretreatment before observation: In order to observe powder samples in detail with a Raman or scanning electron microscope (SEM), it is important that the powder is uniformly distributed on the sample table.
- Coating evaluation: In the case of catalysts using precious and rare metals, a thin coating is applied to the surface of a porous substrate. It is important to observe and analyze the condition of the coating, since the most efficient coating is achieved by uniformly applying the minimum required amount.
We have a long-standing commitment to complimentary sample analysis towards the evaluation of advanced materials. Each submission is measured by a highly-trained member of the Applications Lab and presented as a formal lab report complete with method, observations, results, and data interpretation assistance.
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