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Advances in alkaline electrolysis technology


This topic aims at advancing AEL technology by improving performances and reducing costs. AEL technology, despite the high maturity of the proposed market solutions, can be improved in order to keep the EU electrolyser industry at the forefront and to support the achievement of the EU performance and cost targets, widening the range of applications where renewable hydrogen produced by AEL could be deployed to support decarbonisation efforts. Anyway, improved performances and solutions will add margins to this target and a better satisfaction of the specific challenge.

The topic aims to facilitate the integration of innovative lab scale developments in the alkaline electrolysis technologies landscape into pilot industrial scale systems for their validation and further escalation into industrial MW scale systems.

The successful proposal should be able to test and validate in a lab and in a relevant environment the targeted innovative parts or components.

The project should explore some of the following innovations: ​

  • New electrocatalysts and electrode materials for alkaline water electrolysis operating at high current density and high energy efficiency based on non-platinum group metals, and preferably on non-critical materials;
  • Novel concepts of porous transport electrodes free of precious metal coatings with integrated micro-porous-layer and electrocatalysts;
  • Explore new electrode production technologies for more efficient mass production (e.g. advanced electroplating, plasma spraying, physical vapor deposition), combined with development of electrocatalysts for alkaline water electrolysis;
  • Improve the separators and/or (microporous) membranes, reaching higher ionic conductivities (enabling higher current densities), improved mechanical properties (enabling thinner membranes), lower gas cross-over (enabling operation at lower load points without safety issues)​;
  • Realise the novel proposed AEL short stack at the scale of at least 10 kW, with a minimum cell area of 100 cm2 and at least 10 cells for the stack, validating in a laboratory environment the specific performance targets;
  • Investigate the potential to increase the temperature to a higher operating window. Develop new alkaline electrolysis systems operating at high temperature, validated at small scales, to improve the operational temperature and energy efficiency (e.g. over 95°C and below 48 kWh/kg);
  • Advanced thermal management to shorten start-up time from warm stand-by, (e.g. by intelligent heat storage or insulation schemes);
  • Reduce the use of noble metals and critical raw materials, improving the life cycle assessment aspects;
  • Moving a step forward with respect to testing procedures and standardised qualifying tests (e.g. considering results from Qualygrids project as well as referring to JRC standardised protocols).

Taking advantage of JRC EU harmonised protocols[[]] for testing of low temperature water electrolysis, it will help updating the standardised testing protocols representative of validating the expected outcomes. This would involve laboratory-based testing of the different integrated improvements into cells and stacks.

Consortia are expected to build on the expertise from the EU research and industrial community to ensure broad impact by addressing several of the aforementioned items.

It is expected to have at least one alkaline electrolyser’ manufacturer as a member of the consortium, to exploit the results and foresee a scaling up of the validated solution.

Proposals are expected to collaborate and explore synergies with the projects supported under topics HORIZON-JTI-CLEANH2-2023 -07-02: ‘Increasing the lifetime of electrolyser stacks’ and HORIZON-JTI-CLEANH2-2022-07-01: ‘Addressing the sustainability and criticality of electrolyser and fuel cell materials’.

Applicants are encouraged to address sustainability and circularity aspects in the activities proposed.

Activities developing test protocols and procedures for the performance and durability assessment of electrolysers and fuel cell components proposals should foresee a collaboration mechanism with JRC (see section ""Collaboration with JRC""), in order to support EU-wide harmonisation. Test activities should adopt the already published EU harmonised testing protocols[[]] to benchmark performance and quantify progress at programme level.

Activities are expected to start at TRL 3 and achieve TRL 5 by the end of the project -see General Annex B.

The JU estimates that an EU contribution of maximum EUR 2.50 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately.

The conditions related to this topic are provided in the chapter of the Clean Hydrogen JU 2023 Annual Work Plan and in the General Annexes to the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2023–2024 which apply mutatis mutandis.