Inspenet, September 2, 2023.
Is it possible to produce hydrogen using less electricity?
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), which is Australia’s national scientific body, has joined forces with RFC Ambrian to establish a new company to commercialize electrolysis technology. CSIRO’s goal is to generate hydrogen using 30% less electricity compared to current alkaline and polymer electrolyte membrane technologies.
CSIRO and Sydney-based RFC Ambrian have co-founded Hadean Energy to advance the development of CSIRO-developed Solid Oxide Tubular Electrolysis (SOE) technology. This technology has the potential to significantly lower hydrogen production costs and contribute to the decarbonization of heavy industry.
The International Energy Agency projects a 138% increase in hydrogen demand by 2030 . However, high production costs and energy requirements are fundamental challenges for the production of green hydrogen .
CSIRO explained that its SOE technology, based on ceramic tubes that have electrodes both inside and outside, manages to generate hydrogen through the electrolyzation of water by combining heat and electricity.
The agency stated that SOEs require less than 42 kWh of electricity to produce 1 kilogram of hydrogen, in contrast to alkaline and polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) alternatives, which demand around 60 kWh/kg of hydrogen.
Sarb Giddey, the lead scientist in charge of hydrogen research at CSIRO, mentioned that this technology has the potential to generate hydrogen more efficiently and cheaper , allowing industry to significantly reduce its emissions.
“It allows industrial waste heat to be re-integrated into industrial processes, reducing the electrical energy needed to produce hydrogen or syngas by up to 30%,” he said. “This is great news for the industry, because the integration of the hydrogen product into on-site industrial processes also eliminates storage and transportation costs, while drastically reducing the use of fossil fuels in the industrial process.”
CSIRO has announced that it will proceed with the construction of a pilot-scale demonstration plant at BlueScope’s Port Kembla Steelworks, located on the south coast of New South Wales. The objective of this installation is to test the technology in a real industrial environment.
Stefan Skorut, RFC Ambrian’s Director of Investments, said the technology is well-placed to address the already established market for industrial hydrogen, which is currently heavily dependent on fossil fuels.
“While state-owned companies are the most efficient method of electrolysis, green hydrogen and synthetic fuels will remain uneconomical unless we address the scalability and cost of electrolysers,” he said. “CSIRO’s tubular SOE technology represents a step change in these metrics.”
The trial process in collaboration with BlueScope is scheduled to start in April 2024. According to CSIRO, the results obtained during this trial will help demonstrate the feasibility of the technology on a broader scale and confirm the technical robustness of the equipment. Hadean Energy will obtain exclusive rights to the technology developed by the government entities.