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What is it?

Solid oxide electrolysis uses thermal energy from heat in combination with electrical energy from an electric current to synthesise hydrogen, using a ceramic solid oxide electrolyte membrane.

Why is it important?

Solid oxide electrolysis makes use of heat to significantly reduce the required electrical energy input for hydrogen production.


  • Inputs: Water, heat, electricity, carbon dioxide (optional)
  • By-products: Oxygen, carbon monoxide (if carbon dioxide input)
  • Operating temperature: 700°–800°C
  • Energy efficiency: (up to 82% system level efficiency claimed to date)


  • Higher electrical efficiencies compared to AE/PEM can already be achieved and up to 10 kw systems have been demonstrated by R&D labs as well as commercial start-up companies
  • High energy efficiency
  • Non-noble materials
  • Low (projected) capital cost for MW scale system
  • Reversible operation as fuel cell is feasible
  • Can be used for the electrolysis of CO2 to CO, or the co-electrolysis of CO2 and H2O to syngas (H2 and CO)
  • Reduced electrical input requirement due to use of thermal energy, which could be sourced from waste heat


  • High temperature operation – heat supplied must be of an appropriate quality (sufficiently high temperature)
  • Poor lifetime due to mechanically unstable electrodes (cracking), brittle ceramics and sealing issues
  • Limited flexibility: constant load recommended to achieve better efficiencies and avoid cell breakdown
  • Ceramic materials have low relatively durability however SOFC system using same materials are now commercial and have been demonstrated to have sufficient stability for commercialisation and deployment

RD&D priorities

  • Improve electrode performance
  • Demonstrate integration with green energy sources at scale
  • Increase lifetime of ceramic materials for ongoing high temperature operation
  • Understand fundamental reaction mechanism and degradation behaviour

Known active organisations

  • Deakin University

Other opportunities like this

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