The Hydrogen Stream: Novel concept for alkaline capillary-fed electrolysis

Researchers from Australia’s University of Wollongong presented a study for alkaline electrolysis where the liquid electrolyte is continuously drawn up a separator, leading to bubble-free operation at the electrodes. Meanwhile, Korean researchers developed a novel heterostructured catalyst, Argentina’s province of Tierra del Fuego presented its hydrogen strategy, Lhyfe and shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique are working on the world’s first offshore renewable hydrogen production demonstrator, and Saudi Aramco outlined its hydrogen targets in its first sustainability report.

Researchers from Australia’s University of Wollongong presented a novel concept of water electrolysis, wherein water is supplied to hydrogen- and oxygen-evolving electrodes via capillary-induced transport along with a porous inter-electrode separator. The liquid electrolyte is continuously drawn up the separator by a capillary effect, from a reservoir at the bottom of the cell. The porous, hydrophilic separator sustains the flow rate required for water electrolysis. The alkaline capillary-fed electrolysis (CFE) cell reportedly leads to inherently bubble-free operation at the electrodes, with performances exceeding commercial electrolysis cells. “The alkaline CFE cell required only 1.506 V at 0.5 A cm−2, which represents a cell energy efficiency of 98% with consumption of only 40.4 kWh per kg of hydrogen” the researchers wrote in a paper published in nature communications, noting that energy consumption in commercial electrolysis cells stands at around 47.5 kWh/kg. “High energy efficiency, combined with the promise of a simplified balance-of-plant, brings cost-competitive renewable hydrogen closer to reality,” they said.

Argentina’s province of Tierra del Fuego presented in Buenos Aires its strategic plan to develop green hydrogen, singling out a roadmap, a feasibility study, and a series of parameters to promote up to US$6-billion in private investments in wind farms and electrolyzers. Governor Gustavo Melella said that the province is in an excellent position to produce green hydrogen due to its wind potential, water access, and hydrocarbons expertise. The provincial authorities presented the plan to representatives from Australia, the Netherlands, Japan, Korea, Germany, France, and Canada. According to Melella, France’s TotalEnergies, US-based MMEX Resources, and Germany’s Siemens Energy have already expressed interest in developing hydrogen in the province. The strategic plan is part of a broader attempt of the country to attract foreign investments in the sector. Río Negro, Neuquén, Jujuy, and Santa Cruz are the other four provinces betting on hydrogen. Argentina is also eying cooperation opportunities with Chile and the United Arab Emirates.

French green hydrogen producer Lhyfe and shipyard Chantiers de l’Atlantique, have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop offshore hydrogen production platforms. The French companies will collaborate on offshore renewable hydrogen production projects with ongrid or offgrid wind farms. “The two partners plan to develop production solutions with a minimum capacity of 100 MW, which will be installed on existing fixed structures, or mounted on seabed foundations or floating platforms,” Lhyfe said. Chantiers de l’Atlantique will design, build, and install the platforms; and Lhyfe will design and operate the renewable hydrogen production facilities. They aim to launch the world’s first offshore renewable hydrogen production demonstrator in September 2022, off the coast of Saint-Nazaire.

Researchers from the Chung-Ang University in Korea have developed a novel heterostructured catalyst that simultaneously boosts the two half-reactions of electrocatalytic water splitting, namely the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). The researchers electrochemically deposited nickel-iron (NiFe) and layered double hydroxide (LDH) nanosheets in a controlled manner on the surface of hollow cobalt sulfide (CoSx) nano arrays supported on nickel foam. “The integration of an active HER catalyst, CoSx and an OER catalyst, NiFe LDH, guarantees a superior bifunctional catalytic activity,” said Seung-Keun Park, who headed the study published in the Small journal. According to the researchers, the catalyst consistently delivers a high current density of 1000 mA cm-2 in both half-reactions at low cell voltages, suggesting its feasibility for industrial-scale water-splitting applications.

EU Member States are communicating to the European Commission the first Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) in the field of hydrogen. “We are talking about 41 projects, in 15 Member States, investing in the development and manufacturing of electrolyzers; of fuel cells; of technologies to power heavy-duty vehicles; or for the safe storage of hydrogen,” wrote Thierry Breton, European commissioner for internal markets. A second hydrogen IPCEI should follow in September. The European Commission also unveiled its plans to start a European Electrolyser Partnership. 

Saudi Aramco aims to produce up to 11 million metric tons of blue ammonia annually by 2030. In its first sustainability report, the Saudi oil giant also unveiled its plans for investment in renewables, targeting 12 GW of solar and wind power annually by 2035. 

A coalition of energy providers, shipping companies, and NGOs – including Siemens Energy, and Brussels-based organisations Hydrogen Europe and Transport&Environment (T&E) – has called on the EU to introduce a minimum quota of 6% sustainable and scalable hydrogen fuels by 2030.

HH2E and the Swiss MET Group teamed up to develop green hydrogen production plants in Lubmin, on the German Baltic coast. The project aims to produce around 6,000 tonnes (over 200,000 MWh) of green hydrogen per year. A second-stage expansion should increase capacity to over 1 GW. 

Opel has unveiled Vivaro-e Hydrogen, a plug-in fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV). The new light commercial vehicle needs three minutes to refuel with hydrogen, and it has a range of more than 400 kilometers. The company plans to deliver the first vehicles to fleet customers in the autumn.

This post appeared first on PV Magazine.

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