News | February 14, 2022

New project: Next Level Solid Oxide Electrolysis

The European Green Deal envisions a CO2-neutral Europe in 2050. Large-scale green hydrogen production by water electrolysis plays a key role in realizing this goal. There are multiple technology options to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.  Alkaline Water Electrolysis (AWE) and Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Electrolysis are the most mature technologies at present. Another promising technology is Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cells (SOEC) technology, for the large-scale green hydrogen production and/ carbon monoxide production from carbon dioxide.

Exploring SOEC Technology

To explore the upscaling potential of SOEC for the Dutch process industry, the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT), TNO / Voltachem, and industrial partners Air Liquide, bp, and OCI initiated a new project together to explore the upscaling potential of SOEC in the process industry. Through this project, the feasibility of SOEC-technology in the chemical and fuels industry will be evaluated.  

The potential of Solide Oxide Elextrolysis

SOEC converts steam and/ or carbon dioxide directly into hydrogen gas, carbon monoxide, and oxygen. In comparison to AWE and PEM, the technology has two main advantages: 

  1. It has a higher conversion efficiency due to favorable thermodynamics and kinetics at higher operating temperatures.  
  1. SOEC can be integrated with a range of existing down-stream industrial processes. This will result in the generation of synthetic fuels, methanol, ammonia and recycling of captured carbon dioxide.  

A solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) is a solid oxide fuel cell that runs in regenerative mode to achieve the electrolysis of water (and/or carbon dioxide) by using a solid oxide, or ceramic, electrolyte to produce hydrogen (and/or carbon monoxide) and oxygen. The technology operates at high-temperature, typically between 500 and 850 degrees Celsius. This SOEC  is very promising, however, further insights are necessary to fulfill the technical and economic viability of integration in existing processes for the fuel and chemical industry.  

The project aim

We want to investigate the upscaling potential of the SOEC technology on an industrial scale. Therefore, we will investigate the viability of integrating the SOEC technology in three different use cases:  

(1) Hydrogen production in an ammonia plant,
(2) Syngas and green hydrogen integrated with blue hydrogen production and downstream processing to e-fuels,
(3) Carbon monoxide production at a gas-producing plant.

For each use case the upscaling options of the SOEC technology in the industrial environment, including heat integration and retrofit integration, will be explored. The research focuses on the evaluation of technical and economic aspects. This will result in a roadmap for a SOEC demo plant for integration in a (petro)chemical plant. 

This project is co-funded by the Topsector Energy Studies of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

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