FCH-02.1-2014 - Research in electrolysis for cost effective hydrogen production
Specific challenge: Water electrolysis is considered to have the potential to provide cost competitive hydrogen with a very low associated carbon footprint in comparison to the current best available technology, which is central SMR (steam methane reforming). In order to achieve this goal by 2025 or 2030 at the latest, as suggested by the “Development of water electrolysis in the European Union” , electrolysers must at least halve their capital cost while reducing their electricity consumption by 10%.
Electrolyser technology priorities are specific to the different chemistries under development. They respond to the need to reduce cost while maintaining or improving performance and include work on advanced catalysts and membranes as well as system engineering. Alkaline electrolysers are most mature, followed by Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) electrolysers. Other technologies include the anion exchange membrane (AEM) and the solid oxide electrolyser (SOEC). Each has promise for cost reduction and the solid oxide system, which operates at high temperature, could produce hydrogen with much lower electricity inputs than conventional electrolysers by adding energy to the process as heat. Considerable development of solid oxide systems is still required, however, to demonstrate robust systems.
Scope: Proposals should address a combination of the following developments:
• Reduction of electricity consumption
• Simplification of systems, size reduction (e.g. through higher current density)
• Reduction of capital cost and use of materials. Enhanced manufacturability. Less expensive materials
• Scalability to multi-MW scale. Modularity
• New component and conceptual systems for improved partial load behaviour and highly dynamic operation
• New materials and component design less prone to degradation. Improved understanding of degradation mechanisms, particularly under dynamic operation
• Better maintenance and higher reliability
Research and innovation activities will contribute to identify and explore improvements towards 2025 central KPIs, as prescribed by the study on “Development of water electrolysis in the European Union”, in decreasing electricity consumption and capital cost, improving durability and dynamic behaviour. A technology neutral approach is favoured, allowing all technologies, whether alkaline, PEM, SOEC or AEM, to propose its challenges and detailed scope of work. As KPIs for SOEC and AEM are not available in the study, proposals addressing these technologies should carefully justify the current state of the art and the potential evolution of the technology until 2025 to be commercially available and competitive ex aequo with the conventional electrolysis technologies.
Expected impact: Proposals are expected to attain cost competitiveness of electrolysis with central Steam Methane Reforming. Proposals should indicate how the technology solution can achieve MAWP targets regarding cost reduction, efficiency improvement and decrease of electricity consumption.
Identifying and validating incremental or break through improvements in materials, components and system concepts directed to set the basis for cost competitive electrolytic hydrogen compared with central SMR should be key drivers in projects led by electrolyser manufacturers, technologists and research institutes. Outcome of the projects must derive in new concepts validated in relevant environments.