Next Level Solid Oxide Electrolysis

Next Level Solid Oxide Electrolysis

Solid Oxide Electrolysis is a technology with great potential for large-scale green hydrogen production by water electrolysis. This project explores the upscaling potential of SOEC, in order to realize a CO2-neutral Europe in 2050. There are multiple technology options to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

In short:

  • Large-scale hydrogen production is essential to reach the Climate Goals of 2050
  • Solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOEC) technology has great potential, but is rarely used in hydrogen production
  • We investigate the potential and feasibility of the SOEC technology on an industrial scale

What’s happening in the field of hydrogen technology?

Today, Alkaline water electrolysis (AWE) and PEM are the most advanced available technology options, but in the long-term solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOEC) technology has great potential.

To explore the upscaling potential of SOEC for the Dutch process industry, the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT) and industry partners Air Liquide, BP and OCI initiated a new project. Through this project, we want to show the feasibility of SOEC-technology in the chemical and fuels industry.  

The potential of Solid Oxide Elextrolysis

SOEC converts steam and carbon dioxide directly into hydrogen gas, carbon monoxide and oxygen. In comparison to AWE and PEM, the technology has two main advantages: 

  1. It has a higher conversion efficiency due to favorable thermodynamics and kinetics at higher operating temperatures.  
  1. SOEC can be integrated with a range of existing down-stream industrial processes, which results in the generation of synthetic fuels, methanol, ammonia and recycling of captured carbon dioxide.  

A solid oxide electrolyzer cell (SOEC) is a solid oxide fuel cell that runs in regenerative mode to achieve the electrolysis of water (and/or carbon dioxide) by using a solid oxide, or ceramic, electrolyte to produce hydrogen (and/or carbon monoxide) and oxygen. The technology allows high-temperature electrolysis, typically between 500 and 850 degrees C. This SOEC  is very promising, but further insights are necessary to fulfil the technical and economic viability of integration in existing processes for the fuel and chemical industry.  

Is SOEC-technology a good alternative?

We want to investigate the potential of the SOEC technology on an industrial scale. Therefore, we will investigate the feasibility of integrating the SOEC technology in three different use cases:  

  1. Hydrogen production in an ammonia plant
  2. Syngas and green hydrogen integrated with blue hydrogen production and downstream e-fuels 
  3. Coal monoxide production

For each use case the upscaling options of the SOEC technology in the industrial environment, including heat integration and retrofit integration, will be explored. We will research both the technical and economic aspects of SOEC integration, resulting in a roadmap for SOEC integration in a pilot plant.

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Acknowledgement & partners

This project is co-funded with subsidy from the Topsector Energy by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.