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«Lappeenranta University of Technology LUT School of Energy Systems Degree Programme in Electrical Engineering Joonas Koponen Review of water ...»

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Lappeenranta University of Technology

LUT School of Energy Systems

Degree Programme in Electrical Engineering

Joonas Koponen

Review of water electrolysis technologies and design of renewable

hydrogen production systems

Examiners: Professor Jero Ahola

Associate professor Antti Kosonen

ABSTRACT

Lappeenranta University of Technology

LUT School of Energy Systems

Degree Programme in Electrical Engineering

Joonas Koponen

Review of water electrolysis technologies and design of renewable hydrogen production systems Master’s Thesis Pages 87, pictures 41, tables 11, appendices 3.

Examiners: Professor Jero Ahola Associate professor Antti Kosonen Keywords: Renewable energy, energy storage, water electrolysis, electric grid, energy conversion, hydrogen An electric system based on renewable energy faces challenges concerning the storage and utilization of energy due to the intermittent and seasonal nature of renewable energy sources. Wind and solar photovoltaic power productions are variable and difficult to predict, and thus electricity storage will be needed in the case of basic power production. Hydrogen’s energetic potential lies in its ability and versatility to store chemical energy, to serve as an energy carrier and as feedstock for various industries. Hydrogen is also used e.g. in the production of biofuels. The amount of energy produced during hydrogen combustion is higher than any other fuel’s on a mass basis with a higher-heating-value of 39.4 kWh/kg. However, even though hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, on Earth most hydrogen exists in molecular forms such as water. Therefore, hydrogen must be produced and there are various methods to do so. Today, the majority hydrogen comes from fossil fuels, mainly from steam methane reforming, and only about 4 % of global hydrogen comes from water electrolysis. Combination of electrolytic production of hydrogen from water and supply of renewable energy is attracting more interest due to the sustainability and the increased flexibility of the resulting energy system. The preferred option for intermittent hydrogen storage is pressurization in tanks since at ambient conditions the volumetric energy density of hydrogen is low, and pressurized tanks are efficient and affordable when the cycling rate is high. Pressurized hydrogen enables energy storage in larger capacities compared to battery technologies and additionally the energy can be stored for longer periods of time, on a time scale of months.

In this thesis, the thermodynamics and electrochemistry associated with water electrolysis are described. The main water electrolysis technologies are presented with state-of-the-art specifications. Finally, a Power-to-Hydrogen infrastructure design for Lappeenranta University of Technology is presented. Laboratory setup for water electrolysis is specified and factors affecting its commissioning in Finland are presented.

TIIVISTELMÄ Lappeenrannan teknillinen yliopisto LUT Energiajärjestelmät Sähkötekniikan koulutusohjelma Joonas Koponen Veden elektrolyysiteknologiat ja uusiutuvan vedyn tuotantojärjestelmien suunnittelu Diplomityö Sivumäärä 87, kuvia 41, taulukoita 11, liitteitä 3.

Tarkastajat: Professori Jero Ahola Tutkijaopettaja Antti Kosonen Hakusanat: Uusiutuva energia, energian varastointi, veden elektrolyysi, sähköverkko, energian muunto, vety Uusiutuvaan energiaan pohjautuva energiajärjestelmä kohtaa haasteita energian varastointiin ja käyttöön liittyen uusiutuvien energialähteiden ollessa jaksottaisia ja kausittaisia.

Tuuli- ja aurinkosähköntuotannot ovat vaihtelevia ja vaikeasti ennustettavissa, joten voimajärjestelmä tulee tarvitsemaan sähköenergiavarastoja taatakseen tasapainon tuotannon ja kulutuksen välillä. Vedyn potentiaali piilee sen kyvyssä varastoida kemiallista energiaa ja toimia energiankantajana sekä teollisuuden raaka-aineena. Vetyä voidaan käyttää myös biopolttoaineiden valmistuksessa. Vedyn palaessa vapautuva energiamäärä massayksikköä kohden on suurempi kuin millään muulla polttoaineella sen ylemmän lämpöarvon ollessa 39,4 kWh/kg. Vaikka vety onkin maailmankaikkeuden yleisin alkuaine, maapallolla vetyä esiintyy lähinnä kemiallisissa yhdisteissä kuten vedessä. Vety ei siis ole primäärienergianlähde vaan sitä on tuotettava. Valtaosa vedystä tuotetaan fossiilisista polttoaineista, eritoten maakaasua reformoimalla, ja vain noin 4 % vedystä tuotetaan elektrolyyttisesti vettä hajottamalla. Veden elektrolyysin ja uusiutuvan energiantuotannon yhdistäminen saa osakseen kasvavaa kiinnostusta muodostuvan energiajärjestelmän kestävyyden ja kasvavan joustavuuden ansiosta. Yleisin vedyn varastointimenetelmä on paineistettuna kaasuna, sillä huoneen lämpötilassa ja normaalipaineessa vedyn energiatiheys tilavuusyksikköä kohden on alhainen, ja paineistus säiliöön on menetelmänä kustannus- ja energiatehokas lataus- ja purkauskertojen kasvaessa. Paineistettu vety mahdollistaa suurempien energiamäärien varastoinnin akkuteknologioihin verrattuna ja lisäksi energiaa voidaan varastoida pidemmäksi aikaa, jopa useiksi viikoiksi.

Tässä työssä kuvataan veden elektrolyysiin liittyvä termodynamiikka ja sähkökemia. Keskeiset veden elektrolyysiteknologiat esitellään ja teknologioiden kehitys sekä tämänhetkinen tila arvioidaan. Lisäksi työssä esitellään Lappeenrannan teknillisen yliopiston tuleva vetyinfrastruktuuri. Työssä spesifioidaan veden elektrolyysin laboratoriolaitteisto ja sen käyttöönottoon vaikuttavat tekijät Suomessa.





PREFACE This thesis was completed in the Laboratory of Digital Systems and Control Engineering in Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). The study was part of Neo-Carbon Energy project, a collaboration project between LUT, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and the Finland Futures Research Centre at the University of Turku. The Neo-Carbon Energy project targets the storage of wind and solar energy and is funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Tekes).

I would like to thank my examiners Professor Jero Ahola and Associate professor Antti Kosonen for the intriguing topic and feedback on this work. I would also like to thank all the researchers and personnel in the Neo-Carbon Energy project for providing an excellent opportunity to learn more about topics both familiar and new. My third and final thanks goes to my colleagues, friends, and family.

Lappeenranta, April 22nd, 2015 Joonas Koponen

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 Objectives of the work

1.2 Outline of the thesis

2. FUNDAMENTALS OF WATER ELECTROLYSIS

2.1 Thermodynamics

2.2 Electrochemistry

2.2.1 Transport resistances

2.2.2 Bubble phenomena

2.3 Electrolyser efficiency and performance

3. OVERVIEW OF WATER ELECTROLYSIS TECHNOLOGIES

3.1 Alkaline water electrolysers

3.2 Proton exchange membrane electrolysers

3.3 Solid oxide electrolyte electrolysers

3.4 Key performance indicators

3.4.1 Efficiency, lifetime, and voltage degradation

3.4.2 Capital and operational costs

3.4.3 Pressurized operation

3.4.4 Dynamic operation

3.5 Main features of commercially available electrolysers

3.6 Alternative conversion technologies for renewable hydrogen production.......... 47

4. PRESENT STATE OF HYDROGEN PRODUCTION

4.1 Role of water electrolysis

4.2 Hydrogen storage

5. RENEWABLE HYDROGEN PRODUCTION AND ENERGY STORAGE...... 57

5.1 Autonomous applications

5.2 Grid-connected applications

5.3 Power electronic systems

6. DESIGN OF A LABORATORY SETUP FOR WATER ELECTROLYSIS...... 68

6.1 Hydrogen safety

6.2 Directives and legislation

6.3 Laboratory setup

7. DISCUSSION

8. CONCLUSION

REFERENCES

APPENDICES APPENDIX 1: Loss-estimate model of an alkaline electrolysis cell APPENDIX 2: Technical details of commercial water electrolysers APPENDIX 3: Process and instrumentation diagram of a high-pressure hydrogen system

SYMBOLS AND ABBREVIATIONS

Roman letters

–  –  –

AC alternating current ASTM American Society for Testing and Materials ATEX atmosphéres explosibles CAES compressed air energy storage CCGT combined-cycle gas turbine DC direct current FCR-D Frequency Containment Reserve for Disturbances FCR-N Frequency Containment Reserve for Normal operation FRR-A Automatic Frequency Restoration Reserve FRR-M Manual Frequency Restoration Reserve GTO gate turn-off thyristor HHV higher-heating-value HIL hardware-in-loop IGBT insulated gate bipolar transistor ISO International Organization for Standardization LFPS line frequency power supply LHV lower-heating-value MEA membrane electrode assembly MOSFET metal-oxide field effect transistor MPPT maximum power point tracking PEM proton exchange membrane (or polymer electrolyte membrane) PGM platinum-group metal PHS pumped hydro storage PV photovoltaic RMS root mean square RPS resonant power supply SNG substitute natural gas SOE solid oxide electrolyte SOFC solid oxide fuel cell SMR steam methane reforming SPS switching power supply URFC unitized regenerative fuel cell YSZ yttria-stabilized zirconia

1. INTRODUCTION

Decarbonization refers to the act of reducing or eliminating carbon dioxide emissions by substituting fossil fuels by renewable energy resources—by natural resources which operate indefinitely without emitting additional greenhouse gases. These renewable energy resources include hydropower, biomass & waste, wind energy, solar energy, and geothermal energy. Nuclear power generation can provide nuclear energy in large quantities without CO2 emissions. However, nuclear power has faced, and will likely continue to face, heated debate due to the potential long-lasting environmental impacts. The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster sparked Italy to abandon nuclear power and Germany finalized its decision to end the use of nuclear energy after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Nuclear power is not typically regarded as a sustainable renewable energy resource.

Globally, the challenge is to ensure energy availability and to preserve the environment.

And this is to be achieved when the global energy demand is expected to increase by a factor of two and meanwhile CO2 emissions should be reduced by more than a half by 2050 compared to the 1990 levels. CO2 emissions are globally the dominating greenhouse gas source as illustrated in Fig. 1.1.

Fig. 1.1 World greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 (Herzog 2009).

In 2005, CO2 emissions accounted for 77 % of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity & heat is the main energy sector contributing to the global CO2 emissions with the final energy consumption of residential and commercial buildings being the dominating end use category. Transportation and industry sectors are also major contributors to the global CO2 emissions. Cement, chemical, and iron & steel industries are the largest single contributors to CO2 emissions in the industry sector. China, United States, and the EU-28 area are the three major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2009, the European Union and the G8 announced an objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 % below 1990 levels by 2050. In developed economies the 2050 target may vary in the range of 80–95 % (ECF 2010). Practically, this requires a transition to a nearly fully decarbonized power sector. EU member countries have set legally binding targets for increasing the share of renewable energies by 2020 and are also committed to targets set for 2030. For EU-28 countries the share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption was 14.1 % in 2012, while the target set for 2020 is 20 %. Finland has agreed to achieve 38 % share by 2020, while this share was 34.3 % in 2012 (Eurostat 2014a). 85 % of Finland’s primary production of renewable energy originates from biomass & waste (Eurostat 2014b). The share of renewable energy in fuel consumption of transport in Finland in 2012 was only 0.4 % (Eurostat 2014c).

Finland, the EU-28 countries, and the rest of the world still have a long way to go to achieve nearly fully decarbonized power sectors. In order to ensure energy availability, increase sustainability, and achieve the goals set for 2050, plans and actions to increase the share of wind and solar power generation have gained worldwide interest. The historical development of installed wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity worldwide is illustrated in Fig. 1.2.

<

–  –  –

Fig. 1.2 Global cumulative installed (a) wind (GWEC 2015) and (b) solar PV capacity (Fraunhofer ISE 2015a). The label texts indicate the increase in installed capacity in percentage.

From 2007 to 2013, the installed solar PV capacity has increased by a factor of 15— resulting in a total capacity of 138.9 GW. At the same time the solar PV module price has decreased by a factor of five (Fraunhofer ISE 2015a). Since 1980, the price of PV modules has followed a price experience curve with an average learning rate of 20.9 % (Fraunhofer ISE 2015a). The learning rate describes the cost decrease for each doubling of the cumulative capacity. The increase of wind capacity has not been as rapid and sudden, but still follows a trend of exponential growth. The average learning rate for the price of wind farms has been estimated to be 15–23 % (Junginger et al. 2005).

Naturally, wind and solar PV power generation are highly intermittent and seasonal, variable on multiple time scales. And this creates challenges related to electricity generation and transmission. Conventional power grids operate in such a way that electricity is consumed at the same time as it is generated. This means that supply and demand of electricity have to be in balance in order to preserve the grid stability. Increasing the share of intermittent, uncontrollable, and unpredictable renewable power generation will eventually result in power generation which cannot guarantee the availability and flexibility that the power system requires. This increases the risk of imbalances in the power system. The intermittent nature of wind and solar PV power generation in Germany is illustrated in Fig. 1.3(a).

Finland’s load profile and net imports are illustrated in Fig. 1.3(b).



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