Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Electricity Storage and the Hydrogen-Chlorine Fuel Cell
by Rugolo, Jason Steven, Ph.D., Harvard University, 2011, 227; 3446168
Abstract (Summary)

Electricity storage is an essential component of the transforming energy marketplace. Its absence at any significant scale requires that electricity producers sit ready to respond to every flick of a switch, constantly adjusting power production to meet demand. The dispatchable electricity production technologies that currently enable this type of market are growing unpopular because of their carbon emissions.

Popular methods to move away from fossil fuels are wind and solar power. These sources also happen to be the least dispatchable. Electricity storage can solve that problem. By overproducing during sunlight to store energy for evening use, or storing during windy periods for delivery in future calm ones, electricity storage has the potential to allow intermittent renewable sources to constitute a large portion of our electricity mix.

I investigate the variability of wind in Chapter 2, and show that the variability is not significantly reduced by geographically distributing power production over the entire country of the Netherlands. In Chapter 3, I calculate the required characteristics of a linear-response, constant activity storage technology to map wind and solar production scenarios onto several different supply scenarios for a range of specified system efficiencies. I show that solid electrode batteries have two orders of magnitude too little energy per unit power to be well suited for renewable balancing and emphasize the value of the modular separation between the power and energy components of regenerative fuel cell technologies.

In Chapter 4 I introduce the regenerative hydrogen-chlorine fuel cell (rHCFC), which is a specific technology that shows promise for the above applications. In collaboration with Sustainable Innovations, we have made and tested 6 different rHCFCs. In order to understand the relative importance of the different inefficiencies in the rHCFC, Chapter 5 introduces a complex temperature and concentration dependent model of the rHCFC cell potential versus current density. The model identifies the chlorine electrode overpotential as the most important loss for high efficiency operation. In Chapter 6 I develop improved materials for the chlorine electrode and report the discovery of promising conducting metal oxide alloy electrodes, which display high catalytic activity with a small precious metal content.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Aziz, Michael J.
School: Harvard University
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-B 72/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Chemical engineering, Energy, Materials science
Keywords: Electricity storage, Fuel cells, Hydrochloric acid
Publication Number: 3446168
ISBN: 978-1-124-49770-9
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