Open Technology award for large-scale electrolysers

Nieuws - 27 september 2022 - Webredactie 3mE

NWO has awarded funding to six technology-science research projects from the Open Technology Programme. One of these is the e-HEAT project by researchers Jurriaan Peeters, Ruud Kortlever and Lorenzo Botto from the Process & Energy Department. In this project they are working on the development of large-scale CO2 electrolysers that enable large-scale energy storage on a seasonal time scale. The outcomes are expected to also benefit H2O electrolysers and fuel cells.

Electrolysers can be used to store electricity generated by solar and wind energy in the form of hydrogen, liquid fuels and base chemicals. Such chemicals can be used for long distance transportation and to make the process industry sustainable. A major hurdle in upscaling electrolysers is that a significant part of the heat that is generated adversely affects the stability of the components as well as the product throughput. For CO2 reduction in particular, issues caused by heat generation are more severe as approximately 50% of the energy input is lost as heat.

Jurriaan Peeters: β€œIn this project, we aim to fully understand heat generation and consequences thereof in all relevant scales of an electrolyser. We will quantifiably assess the temperature effects on electro catalytic performance and material stability. Moreover, we will devise mitigation strategies for adverse temperature effects.”

In parallel, novel heat transfer models will be developed that can aid in creating and testing novel cooling designs. Using high performance computing techniques, we will develop a detailed multi- physics & chemistry model for heat generation at the micrometre scale, which will then be translated to a model that engineers can use in the design of electrolysers. 

Finally, by combining the experimental and modelling efforts, novel cooling strategies that will help to homogenise the temperature throughout the electrolyser will be developed, thus ensuring the long-term stable operation of electrolysers. The outcomes are expected to also benefit H2O electrolysers and fuel cells as such devices cope with similar heat generation challenges.