A high-performance capillary-fed electrolysis cell promises more cost-competitive renewable hydrogen
Renewable, or green, hydrogen will play a critical role in the decarbonisation of hard-to-abate sectors and will therefore be important in limiting global warming. However, renewable hydrogen is not cost-competitive with fossil fuels, due to the moderate energy efficiency and high capital costs of traditional water electrolysers. Here a unique concept of water electrolysis is introduced, wherein water is supplied to hydrogen- and oxygen-evolving electrodes via capillary-induced transport along a porous inter-electrode separator, leading to inherently bubble-free operation at the electrodes. An alkaline capillary-fed electrolysis cell of this type demonstrates water electrolysis performance exceeding commercial electrolysis cells, with a cell voltage at 0.5 A cm−2 and 85 °C of only 1.51 V, equating to 98% energy efficiency, with an energy consumption of 40.4 kWh/kg hydrogen (vs. ~47.5 kWh/kg in commercial electrolysis cells). High energy efficiency, combined with the promise of a simplified balance-of-plant, brings cost-competitive renewable hydrogen closer to reality.
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Australian National Fabrication Facility