The Hydrogen Stream: High-pressure PEMEL electrolyzers for lower hydrogen costs


New research from the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) in Norway has shown that a significant reduction in capex for hydrogen projects can be achieved by deploying high-pressure proton exchange membrane-based water electrolysis (PEMEL) systems, and thereby removing mechanical compressors. “With a PEMEL system cost of €900 ($947.5) kW−1 and a compressor cost of €3800 kW−1, high-pressure electrolysis at 80, 200, and 350 bar may become economically viable with electricity prices below 0.4, 0.16, and 0.09 € kWh−1, respectively,” the team led by Ragnhild Hancke wrote in the paper The case for high-pressure PEM water electrolysis, published in Energy Conversion and Management. She told pv magazine that the most promising use cases for high-pressure PEMEL are found at 80 and 200 bar. “This fits well with the pressure requirements for several industrial hydrogen applications, such as green methanol production, transport and storage in the natural gas grid, gas storage in salt caverns, and ammonia production,” she said, noting that self-pressurized electrolyzers provide a higher overall energy consumption than electrolyzers operating at 30 bar in combination with a hydrogen compressor, due to higher compression losses, but they are compensated by lower expenses for the mechanical compressor itself.

Korea’s Lotte Chemical and Air Liquide Korea will establish a joint venture to build a hydrogen supply chain in South Korea, starting with an investment in two large-scale hydrogen centers in Daesan and Ulsan. The joint venture aims to develop the national hydrogen mobility market. “The joint venture will be established by Air Liquide Korea and Lotte Chemical with a 60:40 share each. The name of the joint venture is undecided, and the company plans to develop the business after the establishment of the corporation in July of this year,” Lotte Chemical wrote on Friday. Lotte Chemical, a daughter company of South Korean multinational conglomerate Lotte Corporation, will provide the by-product hydrogen from business sites located in Daesan and Ulsan. Air Liquide Korea, a subsidiary of the French supplier of industrial gases and services, will provide its expertise in hydrogen shipping centers and distribution.

Australia’s Aviation H2 has selected the use of liquid ammonia to turbofan combustion as the best route to carbon-free flight, the company said after a three-month feasibility study. Aviation H2, which recently launched a capital raise, will soon start modifying turbofan engines to test and prove the concept. “There are multiple reasons why liquid ammonia was selected. Chiefly its advantages include high gravimetric and volumetric hydrogen density that makes it lighter and easier to transport while providing a greater energy conversion rate,” Aviation H2 Director, Helmut Mayer, said. The company expects to have Australia’s first hydrogen-fuelled aircraft in the skies by the middle of 2023. “Their research shows that converting a Falcon 50 to Liquid Ammonia Turbofan Combustion is the most efficient and commercially viable avenue to building a hydrogen-powered plane,” the company wrote on Thursday.

Australia-based technology company Hazer Group announced that the proposed Burrard Hazer Hydrogen Project in Port Moody would receive up to C$8 million of grant funding from the province of British Columbia. The project is a collaboration between Hazer Group and Canada’s energy companies FortisBC Energy, and Suncor Energy. “The Project will be a leading demonstration of the Hazer Process, an innovative methane pyrolysis technology producing low-carbon intensity hydrogen for clean energy, transport or industrial uses and a synthetic graphitic carbon by-product for manufacturing or industrial use,” Hazer Group wrote on Thursday. The initial Feasibility Study commenced in February. The companies should take a final investment decision (FID) in 2023. Operations should begin in 2025. The total budget for the pre-FID works is estimated to be C$11.25 million.

The US Department’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) offered a conditional commitment for a US$504.4 million loan guarantee to the Advanced Clean Energy Storage Project. “The facility in Delta, Utah, will combine alkaline electrolysis with salt cavern storage for grid scale energy conversion and storage using hydrogen as the energy carrier,” DOE wrote earlier this week. Using a 220 MW electrolyzer, the project could help reduce renewable energy curtailment in the Western United States. The stored hydrogen would then fuel a combined cycle gas turbine, scheduled for start-up in 2025. At first, a 30% hydrogen blend will be used. The project will use increasing amounts of hydrogen, reaching 100% in 2045. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Japan to meet the Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. According to Scholz, cooperation between the two countries is essential for climate issues, mainly via the creation of a hydrogen economy. Before returning to Germany, Scholz visited a hydrogen production plant in Kawasaki on Friday. This trip was his first visit to the region since he took office. Germany holds the presidency of the G7 this year; Japan will take over in January. Germany is also looking into more vital hydrogen collaboration with Canada. The Northern American country is already working with the European Union to define standards and complementary regulatory frameworks.  

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Canada-based Hydrogen Optimized has signed an MOU with hydrogen-development company Green Hydrogen International (GHI) for a large electrolyzer manufacturing facility in Texas, the United States. “The factory will produce Hydrogen Optimized’s RuggedCell water electrolyzers for GHI’s planned Hydrogen City project, a previously announced 60 gigawatt (GW) green hydrogen production and salt cavern storage hub to be built in South Texas,” the two companies wrote on Wednesday. The proposed manufacturing facility will be built out in stages, with an ultimate target of 5 GW a year of electrolyzer production. GHI intends to purchase the facility’s entire output for the first 10 years of operation to supply its Hydrogen City project.

British Columbia announced two hydrogen-related investments for “zero-emission vehicle technology.” Ventilation systems expert Core Energy Recovery Solutions will receive $389,638 in funding through the Advanced Research and Commercialization program to support the production of prototype membrane humidifiers for hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). “Humidifiers are a crucial component to the overall system and performance of FCEVs,” the Ministry of Energy wrote last week. Ion-exchange membranes expert Ionomr Innovations will receive $205,780 “to improve efficiency, lifetime and scalability in hydrogen fuel-cell power system technology.”

Hungary-based oil and gas company MOL Group and US hydrogen fuel-cell systems company Plug Power will build one of Europe’s largest-capacity green hydrogen production facilities at MOL’s Danube Refinery in Százhalombatta. The facility should be operational in 2023. “Utilizing a 10-megawatt (MW) electrolysis unit from Plug Power, MOL’s €22 million facility will be able to produce approximately 1,600 tons of clean, carbon-neutral, green hydrogen annually,” wrote MOL on Wednesday. 

Stockholm-based energy systems producer Metacon, in cooperation with engineering partner Gisab, has entered into a 56 MSEK contract to supply two electrolysis-based integrated Green Hydrogen Refuelling Stations (HRS) to hydrogen-focused Botnia Hydrogen, a company with assets mostly in Finland, but also in Sweden. “The stations, with the capacity to refuel 200 and 400 kg of hydrogen per day at 350 and 700 bar, will be located in Piteå and Arvidsjaur in northern Sweden,” the companies wrote on Wednesday. The construction is set to commence at the end of 2022; both stations are expected to be in operation in the spring of 2023.

Electric boat company Torqeedo announced a collaboration with Proton Motor Fuel Cell to integrate hydrogen fuel cell charging into its propulsion systems. The two Bavaria-based companies will collaborate on the maritime hydrogen hybrid kit to speed up recharge times. “The system will be designed for a propulsion power of 50 to 200 kW and a fuel cell power of 30 to 120 kW and will have flexible options for hydrogen storage,” Torqeedo wrote on Thursday. 

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