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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.

Technology

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.

Characteristics

  • 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)

Benefits

  • 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

Limitations

  • 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

  • CSIRO
  • Deakin University

Other opportunities like this

  • Water is split into hydrogen and oxygen via the application of an electric current, using a porous diaphragm and an alkaline electrolyte.

  • Water is split into hydrogen and oxygen via the application of an electric current, using a porous anion exchange membrane diaphragm and an alkaline electrolyte.

  • A variation of an electrochemical system (AE, PEM, SOE) with a portion of the energy input being supplied by the chemical conversion of coal or other carbon sources such as biomass, alcohols or other hydrocarbons. Assisted electrolysis can be either high or low temperature.

Process group

Readiness Level

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