Comprehensive impedance investigation of low-cost anion exchange membrane electrolysis for large-scale hydrogen production

Hydrogen Innovations News - Electricity production by renewable sources such as solar, wind and tidal hydraulics now offers the most promising solutions to our current energy demands, taking a clean environment into consideration1. However, the electricity produced directly from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, may be negatively impacted by fluctuations in relevant geographical factors, such as cloud cover and low winds2. This then leads to an interrupted supply of the renewable energy, hence renewable energy must be stored and then used on demand for specific applications2. Among the various energy storage technologies, storage in the form of hydrogen is considered most preferable, due to the ability to store large amounts of energy for short and long periods of time, which can be decoupled upon demand3.

Low-temperature water electrolysis is one of the cutting edge technologies for the sustainable conversion of hydrogen from renewable energy, using water. This technology offers adequate energy storage and grid-balancing utility in power-to-gas operations4. The advantages offered by low-temperature water electrolysis include its high efficiency, high product purity, stable output, the feasibility of large-scale production and the capability of incorporating renewable energy as power source5.

Currently, the main commercially available water electrolysis technologies are proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis and alkaline electrolysis. A PEM electrolysis performance of 3000 mA cm–2 at 1.8 V has been reported (2015)6. However, the acidic environment required in PEM electrolysis limits the choice of catalysts to the expensive noble metals, such as platinum, iridium and it oxides7. Furthermore, the Nafion-based PEM and titanium stack components directly increase the capital cost of the electrolysis process, hence hindering the wider application of this technology.

On the other hand, we do have alkaline electrolysis that is a mature and less expensive technology, but it cannot be linked with the renewable energies (solar, wind, etc.) for power generation owing to its inability to maintain high-pressure hydrogen, because of the required use of a porous diaphragm and liquid electrolyte8.

 

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Comprehensive impedance investigation of low-cost anion exchange membrane electrolysis for large-scale hydrogen production

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