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Favorable Start-Up Behavior of Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Water Electrolyzers


Dynamically-operated water electrolyzers enable the production of green hydrogen for cross-sector applications while simultaneously stabilizing power grids. In this study, the start-up phase of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) water electrolyzers is investigated in the context of intermittent renewable energy sources. During the start-up of the electrolysis system, the temperature increases, which directly influences hydrogen production efficiency. Experiments on a 100 kWel electrolyzer, combined with simulations of electrolyzers with up to 1 MWel, were used to analyze the start-up phase and assess its implications for operators and system designers. It is shown that part-load start-up at intermediate cell voltages of 1.80 V yields the highest efficiencies of 74.0 %LHV compared to heat-up using resistive electrical heating elements, which reaches maximum efficiencies of 60.9 %LHV. The results further indicate that large-scale electrolyzers with electrical heaters may serve as flexible sinks in electrical grids for durations of up to 15 min.

Funding source: This work was supported by the state of North Rhine–Westphalia with funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the project, “Kompetenz-Zentrum Virtuelles Institut Strom zu Gas und Waerme” (Grant No. EFRE-0400151) and by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) - 491111487. The authors would also like to thank Saanika Deokule, Lukas Ritz and Richard Wegner for their support of the experiments.
Related subjects: Production & Supply Chain
Countries: Germany

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