Demonstration of large-scale co-electrolysis for the Industrial Power-to-X market
This topic calls for the development, manufacturing, commissioning and operation of an industrial size co-electrolysis system, based on SOC technology. This should be demonstrated in an industrial environment with the following goals:
- Fully equipped system including CO2, steam, electricity supply and the conditioning of all feed and product streams (especially the cleaning of CO2 from contaminants) as well as the compression of the syngas to the pressure required by the consumer;
- Net output of at least 80 kg pure (2 H2:CO) syngas/h, used to substitute fossil-based syngas, which corresponds to approximately 700 kWAc;
- Demonstration for two years with an expected production of 500-900 tons of syngas at >95% availability. Part load operation to handle flexible loads is also expected and the demonstration should be concluded without the need for a stack replacement;
- The power consumption at Beginning-of-Life (BOL) should be less than 8.5 kWh AC/kg of syngas and the production loss rate should be less than 1.2%/kh;
- Stack box reference tests should be performed in order to analyse root causes of degradation. Degradation caused on stack and system level should be separately investigated. Consequences of gas flow and temperature inhomogeneity as well as impacts from critical operating conditions should be analysed;
- It should be able to demonstrate a pathway that achieves a CAPEX of less than €480/kg/day and operation and maintenance cost of less than €24/kg/day by 2024. Recommendations on how to reach these targets should be given;
- CO2 and steam should be sourced from existing streams, while electricity should be sourced renewably by a direct connection to a renewable power source or through a contractual relationship (e.g. PPA). “CertifHy Green H2“ guarantees of origin should be used through the CertifHy platform;
- The co-electrolyser should be benchmarked against the operational range of the fossil source process (SMR). This benchmarking should be done with respect to the H2:CO ratio as well as part load capability (from min to max in <5 minutes for grid services);
- All data derived from the operation and the market such as feed stream purchasing, product sales and additional income streams should be used to create a techno-economic analysis. It is expected that an LCA will be conducted and that the GHG mitigation potential and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) will be calculated in order to derive a business model that encourages the use of co-electrolysis over fossil sources. Recommendations for adaptations in the relevant legal frameworks should be made.
The values above are expressed for the standard syngas composition of 2H2:CO. Different use cases might require different stoichiometry, e.g. higher CO content. For those cases, equivalent targets should be developed and proposed by the applicants.
The consortium should include the co-electrolysis system manufacturer and the industrial syngas consumer.
TRL at start: 5 and TRL at the end of the project: 7
Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) dedicated mailbox JRC-PTT-H2SAFETY@ec.europa.eu , which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD and the Hydrogen Event and Lessons LEarNed database, HELLEN. A draft safety plan at project level should be provided in the proposal and further updated during project implementation (deliverable to be reviewed by the European Hydrogen Safety Panel (EHSP)).
Activities developing test protocols and procedures for the performance and durability assessment of fuel cell or electrolyser components should foresee a collaboration mechanism with JRC (see section 3.2.B ""Collaboration with JRC""), in order to support EU-wide harmonisation. Test activities should adopt the already published FCH 2 JU harmonized testing protocols to benchmark performance and quantify progress at programme level.
The maximum FCH 2 JU contribution that may be requested is EUR 5 million. This is an eligibility criterion – proposals requesting FCH 2 JU contribution above this amount will not be evaluated.
Expected duration: 4 years
In order to fight climate change, the need to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases will force the chemical industry to find alternate paths to the conventional fossil carbon sources. A significant number of existing and future value chains require carbon monoxide (CO) in addition to hydrogen. Even at high rates of direct electrification scenarios that include the use of biomass, there is still a demand for carbon (C). At EU level, this is in the range of millions of tons/year  (corresponding to GWs of energy demand if derived from CO2) due to following reasons:
- Carbon (C) is a building block in basic chemicals such as aviation fuels and alloys and is responsible for 20% of crude oil usage in the EU. It can hardly be replaced by direct electrification or pure hydrogen;
- CO has a stronger binding enthalpy to oxygen (O2). Redox processes, e.g. ore reduction, can run at lower temperatures (and therefore fewer complex materials) with CO than with pure H2.
Carbon is either part of a product directly from crude oil or derived from fossil syngas (H2 + CO). Similarly to hydrogen, most of the syngas nowadays is produced by steam methane reformers (SMR) which emit more than 6 kg of CO2 per kg of syngas. Industrial Power-to-X Plants require quantities of syngas in scales of minimum 20 MW while the standard scale will be more than 100MW.
The general challenge is to supply green syngas at a competitive cost and in the MW range in order to be relevant to the industrial applications that will still rely on carbon in the future.
High temperature steam electrolysis based on Solid Oxide Cell (SOC) technology can perform the co-electrolysis of CO2 to CO along with hydrogen production. This directly creates syngas (H2 + CO) at high system efficiencies of 80% (LHV SynGas/kWh AC) and high conversion rates (>80%), already demonstrated at low TRL by previous FCH 2 JU projects and national projects (e.g. Kopernikus  or ECo ).
The specific challenge is to scale up to the MW range and advance it to a TRL that is relevant for industrial syngas consumers while getting the cost of green syngas close to the steam reformer level.
The project is expected to demonstrate a path forward to the reduction of carbon-emissions from the chemical industry in EU. The most important impact is the industrial operation of the world´s largest co-electrolyser, which will be perceived as “MW scale” in comparison to legacy water electrolysis, although it may take in less than one MW electric power due to its high efficiency.
Due to the scale-up factor it is expected that industrial components will be used offering a reduction in the overall costs of a co-electrolysis system.
A very important impact is the increased trustworthiness for this technology by achieving the following goals:
- At least 12,000 operational hours with less than 1.2%/kh production loss rate;
- Electricity consumption at rated capacity and at beginning of life (BOL) that will be less than 8.5 kWh AC/kg of syngas without compression. This equals to about 80% electrical efficiency (LHV SynGas/kWh AC), which is below the MAWP target of 202465 for pure steam electrolysis since co-electrolysis is more complex;
- Availability of 95% which is 3% less than the 98% MAWP target for 2024 for this new technology for the same reason as above;
- An expected capital cost reduction to €480/kg/day and operation and maintenance cost reduction to less than €24/kg/day;
- A detailed degradation analysis and the identification of measures to lower degradation in the future;
- The project is expected to demonstrate the scale up of SOC co-electrolysis which will be necessary in order to decarbonise chemical feedstock;
- The project is expected to produce high quality data for LCA, GHG mitigation potential and TCO calculations. Additionally, a business model is expected as well as recommendations for adaptations of the relevant regulatory framework. The above should enable the replication of such business propositions following the completion of the project.
With the successful completion of such a project, co-electrolysis shall show its potential to largely contribute to sectoral integration as well as grid balancing by utilizing existing infrastructure and by enlarging the reach of green hydrogen to industrial areas that are today only accessible for fossil syngas or fossil hydrocarbons.
The conditions related to this topic are provided in the chapter 3.3 of the FCH2 JU 2020 Annual Work Plan and in the General Annexes to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018– 2020 which apply mutatis mutandis.