Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GRAPHENERGY3 (Novel Electrochemical Exfoliation Approach to the Synthesis of Large Area, Defect-Free and Single Layer Graphene and Its Application in Fuel Cells)
Reporting period: 2015-08-17 to 2017-08-16
It has recently been shown that perfect monolayers of graphene – impermeable to thermal atoms and molecules – are permeable to hydrogen nuclei. Moreover, the two-dimensional (2D) crystals could efficiently separate protons from deuterons. However, those studies used micron-size crystals obtained by exfoliation, a method unsuitable for industrial-scale applications. So the aim of this project is to explore the feasibility of graphene-based electrochemical pumps for industrial-scale separation of hydrogen isotopes.
(2) A high proton-deuteron separation factor of ~8 has been achieved using our graphene based electrochemical pumps. For example, for equal amounts of protium and deuterium in the feed (50% H atomic fraction), protium accounts for up to ≈90% of atoms in the permeate.
(3) The energy consumption is projected to be orders of magnitude smaller with respect to existing technologies. A membrane based on 30 square meter of graphene, a readily accessible amount, could provide a heavy-water output comparable to that of modern plants.
(4) The new technology will be even more attractive for tritium decontamination and extraction. The identified mechanism behind proton-deuteron sieving implies a separation factor of ~30 for protium-tritium separation.
The research results above have been reported in journal Nature Communications. The dissemination of the work has been undertaken through presentations at National graphene institute, Manchester and at 2017 Graphene week held in Athens, Greece.
This is a crucial milestone in the path to taking this revolutionary technology from our lab to the industry. This technology can economically transform the environmental footprint of future nuclear plants.
The work has been widely publicised through various media including Phy.org.