DTU Risø finds cheaper way to make hydrogen from water  

2008.09.11
Risø DTU has shown that an SOEC can produce hydrogen much more efficiently than conventional alkaline electrolysis
As a renewable energy resource, wind energy has many attractive features - and one fundamental drawback. It is by nature a variable and unpredictable resource. For this reason, much effort is going into developing ways of storing the energy produced by wind turbines when supply exceeds demand, for subsequent use as an output leveller when demand exceeds supply.
 
Storing the energy in the form of hydrogen gas produced by the alkaline electrolysis of water is a well-known method of achieving this. Although conceptually attractive, it has been criticised because of the energy losses involved in the conversion process.
 
Now Denmark's national laboratory Risø DTU has demonstrated a new electrolytic technology with a markedly improved energy conversion efficiency, writes financial daily newspaper Børsen. The system is designed to use electricity from a wind turbine to power a high temperature solid oxide fuel cell running in reverse, known as an SOEC (Solid Oxide Electrolyzer Cell), to electrolyse water to hydrogen and oxygen. The reported energy conversion efficiency is 76%, compared with around 65% for conventional alkaline hydrolysis.
 
A further advantage of the wind energy powered SOEC is that it can also be used to convert carbon dioxide and water into a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide known as synthesis gas or syngas, which in turn can be converted into automotive fuels like methanol and DME (dimethyl ether) using well-known process technologies. However, it remains to be seen what overall levels of energy conversion efficiency Risø DTU may be able to achieve in producing such synthetic fuels from wind power.

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