For her work on solar hydrogen production with a thermochemical cycle, the scientist Dr. Martina Neises-von Puttkamer was awarded the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Price from the Friedrich-Wilhelm Foundation. The employee of the DLR Institute of Solar Research, received the award on November 30th in a ceremony at the RWTH Aachen University. Based in Aachen, the Friedrich-Wilhelm Foundation awards the prize annually to students, young scientists and scholars of the RWTH Aachen. The award winners are selected for their outstanding achievements.
Hydrogen is one of the most promising alternatives to replace fossil fuels. However, to completely transfer from fossil fuels to hydrogen and to ensure a sustainable hydrogen economy, hydrogen must be produced CO2-free and without the use of fossil fuels. Water is an alternative resource to fossil fuels. By using concentrated solar energy it can be split into hydrogen and oxygen without any CO2- emissions.
In her doctoral studies Dr. Martina Neises-von Puttkamer examined a two-step thermochemical cycle for hydrogen production, in which water is thermally decomposed at temperatures up to 1200 ° C. The process makes use of silicon carbide structures coated with mixed iron oxides that are heated by solar energy up to the required process temperatures. Long-term studies with coated honeycomb structures combined with various material analysis techniques showed how the material degraded over time and which mechanisms contribute to the transformation. The results provided a better understanding of the underlying reaction mechanisms and enable further improvement of the process.