This report is a strategic proposal related to the research and development (R&D) involved in innovation of reaction processes that form the bases of processes such as energy conversion, chemicals synthesis, etc. Specifically, it focuses on a technology that enables independent control of ions and electrons in a chemical reaction by a combination of catalysis, electrochemistry, and solid-state ionics. This technology can improve both reaction rate and selectivity in a low to intermediate temperature range, namely 150 to 600? to realize an innovative chemical reaction through the combined use of heat and electricity. Utilization of these technologies to industrial processes is expected to simplify the process, to reduce production cost and to improve energy efficiency. This research topic has now entered into a stage of active R&D thanks to novel solid-state ionics materials working in a low to intermediate temperature range. These R&Ds can contribute to the reinforcement of industrial competitiveness and the realization of a low-carbon society.
Fuel cells are a good example of energy conversion technologies, in which chemical energy from the fuel is directly converted to electricity by electrochemical reactions using solid-state ionics materials. Application of solid-state ionics materials to chemical production have just started. Chemical synthesis requires not only high reaction rate, but also high selectivity for a targeted product. The innovative chemical reaction proposed in the report aims at simultaneous improvement of both reaction rate and selectivity by enhancing reaction control through thermal and electric potential using solid state ionics materials. The new procedures will enhance catalytic activities in a low to intermediate temperature range for selective chemical reaction. In addition, the use of thermal energy can reduce the use of costly electricity as low as possible. Moreover, the combined use of heat and electricity in industrial sectors enables simplification of large-scale facilities and cost reduction. This can enhance competitiveness in various industries including the chemical industry. Furthermore, the widespread use of such technology in energy utilization and conversion may be expected to recover waste heat and to achieve higher efficiency, leading to accelerated realization of a low-carbon society.
For facilitating the R&D of innovative chemical reactions, it is necessary to employ materials that function in a low to intermediate temperature range. Recently, candidates such as sodium titanate oxide have been proposed. Also, lattice-strain effects are known to enhance ionic conductivity.
Collaborative research on this technology is very important involving not only catalyst chemistry, electrochemistry, and solid-state ionics, but also mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, process engineering, analytical science, and computational science. Implementation of the present proposal will expand these areas by merging various interdisciplinary research areas.
The R&Ds in the present strategic proposal are summarized as follows:
R&D focused on constructing/designing reactors for novel chemical reactions
Search of optimal electrode catalysts in electrochemical reactions
R&D of solid-state ionics materials working in a low to intermediate temperature range.
R&D of optimal control on catalysis functions in chemical reactions including electric potential control.
R&D for material search/development and method of chemical reactions through feedback from the basic research.
Theoretical and experimental investigations on ion and electron transfer phenomena on surfaces and interfaces
R&D toward the application for reaction processes
Study on the evaluation of energy efficiency, etc., based on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in reaction processes as well, and selection of chemical reactions/processes based on the results of such evaluation
Applied research of the designing of reactors toward process designing