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Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2022-06-30

The WINNER project is contributing to the shift towards a more sustainable energy future by developing an efficient and durable technology platform based on electrochemical proton ceramic conducting (PCC) cells designed for unlocking a path towards commercially viable production, extraction, purification and compression of hydrogen at small to medium scale of three process chains: Cracking of ammonia to pressurized hydrogen or to power; Dehydrogenation of ethane to produce ethylene and pressurized hydrogen, Reversible steam electrolysis (RePCEC). The WINNER project builds on the pioneering multidisciplinary expertise of world leading partners in the fields of proton conducting ceramic (PCC) materials and technologies to combine materials science, multi-scale multi-physics modelling and advanced in-situ and operando characterisation methods to unveil unprecedent performance of tubular PCC cells assembled in a flexible multi-tube module operating at industrially relevant conditions. WINNER will develop innovative cell architectures with multifunctional electrodes and a novel pressure-less current collection system using eco-friendly and scalable manufacturing routes. These activities will be steered by a novel multiscale multi-physics modelling platform and enhanced experimentation methodologies. These tools combined with advanced operando and in situ methods will serve at establishing correlations between performance and degradation mechanisms associated with both materials properties and interface's evolution upon operation. Testing of cells and modules will also be conducted to define performance and durability in various operation modes. Techno-economic assessment of the novel PCC processes will be conducted as well as Life Cycle Assessment.
During the first period, the project has contributed to the following advancements:
- Novel materials are being investigated for the development of redox-stable electrodes and reversible electrodes for the various applications. Several material systems are being investigated for their compatibility with the state of the art electrolyte composition, BZCY81, and their conductivity in relevant atmospheres and temperatures. This screening step has been completed and a number of candidate materials have been further tested as single phase electrode as well as composite electrode with BZCY material. Both disk-shaped samples and complete tubular cells have been successfully produced with these novel electrode architectures and tested by EIS and IV measurements. Presently, the results on cell test for reversible electrolysis are showing significant improvement of the new architectures in terms of ASR and Faradaic efficiency, as compared to the state-of-the-art cell configuration established from former project. Regarding the development of redox stable electrodes, a handful of candidates has been identified as potential candidates for further investigation by EIS and IV measurements in cell configuration. This will be investigated in the next period of WINNER.
- Novel architectures of electrodes and cells have been produced, which encompass tubular half-cells with improved microstructure of the H2 electrode and stoichiometry of the electrolyte; novel current collection system for tubular cell integrating steel and reactive bonding layer; various BGLC-BZCY electrodes with variable BGLC stoichiometry.
- Regarding the development of a hybrid AI-Multiphysics tools, CSIC has developed a modelling platform, as described in WP3 and in D3.3. This flexible multi-purpose tool will be exploited for ammonia cracking, dehydrogenation of hydrocarbons and reversible steam electrolysis, and can be upgraded to accommodate further applications. The platform software is called 3DM, is based on Python and comprises 4 main programmatic units, namely structures, geometries, generators and models.
- A multi-scale multi-physics modelling platform is being developed integrating all disciplines (atomistic, electro-chemical, mechanical, fluid flow, reactor engineering, electric, heat) with the ultimate goal to determine the rate determining steps at meso-scale in the electrochemical cell, and the most efficient dimensioning and arrangement of the cells in the multi-tube modules. The partners have worked on establishing a communication platform to establish a link between the different models and competences. Thishas notably resulted in the development of an engineering model for each of the WINNER application. Furthermore, atomistic modelling has been used to define activation energies and pre-exponential values over a sequence of electrode reaction steps. These will be implemented as input parameters in the electrochemical model. For the latter, the scope of the work during the first period was to establish a DC current-potential (I-V) relation and develop an analytical expression applicable to all systems. At M18 of the project, a model for multiple charge-carriers resistance over electrolyte and electrode have been developed and exemplified for reversible electrodes BLC and BGLC37. DC resistances for protons and oxide ions as functions of T, pH2O and pO2 have been modelled. A generic model for expressing electrode overpotential versus current based on measured polarisation resistance has been developed and exemplified for BLC and BGLC37.
- Tubular half-cells have been characterized via a four-point bending technique to assess their linear behaviour and mechanical properties. Different testing conditions have been investigated, varying parameters such as temperature, gas atmosphere composition and time of exposure to the latter conditions to determine the effect of relevant operating parameters on the mechanical reliability of the aforementioned components.The tubular half-cells showed satisfactory mechanical performance in all the conditions.
-Process diagram with BoP for each application has been defined by all industrial partners. This has been used as a basis for defining the engineering models.
Overall the project is progressing according to plan, and is expecting to deliver several publications of these results by end of 2022-beginning of 2023.
The project aims at demonstrating the feasibility of using PCC based cells in several applications, which are currently not well documented/investigated worldwide. The PCC electrochemical reactors investigated in WINNER will enable, if successful, process intensification (shifting chemical equilibria) and electro-synthesis reactors to increase efficiency of overall chemicals and/or green fuel production with low or no CO2 footprint. The project will develop the necessary materials set for the based cell, the key enabling technology, and will provide innovative protocols for their assembly to produce complete cells. Results from testing of these cells in relevant operational mode and conditions will be used to provide new insights on the correlation of performance and degradation mechanisms, including on/off cycles and dynamic operation. The project aims at setting the new benchmark of PCC technology for the selected applications and at enabling efficient integration in the process chains of PCC technology to reduce the overall cost for using hydrogen or ammonia as energy vector.