The production of hydrogen is now recognized as an emerging market right around the globe. Many diverse electrolyzer manufacturers are experiencing unprecedented demand. A great many new players are jumping on the bandwagon and increasing numbers of conventional energy suppliers are pivoting from traditional power sources to renewable energies and embedding hydrogen in their portfolios. So what is the current situation vis-a-vis electrolyzers and what can we expect in the future? This article seeks to shine a light on these and other questions by providing a general – though not necessarily exhaustive – roundup of recent developments.
About halfway between Montreal and Quebec City, the small town of Bécancour on the Saint Lawrence River has 13,000 inhabitants. The current world record holder in membrane electrolysis is located in the industrial park, between medium-sized chemical and refinery operations. With a capacity of 20 MW, fed by abundantly available hydropower, the PEM electrolyser supplies 8.2 t of hydrogen per day to part of the local industry.
Alkaline fuel cells, with their very low use of precious metals, are an alternative to PEM fuel cell technology. Another benefit is the higher tolerance to impurities in the supplied hydrogen. The focus of their work is particularly in the stationary sector. Two current projects with systems from AFC Energy bring dynamism to the still rare project landscape with alkaline fuel cells: The cooperation with ABB on their HPC charging solution for electric vehicles and the future project LLEC at the Jülich Research Centre.
E4tech Fuel Cell Industry Review
In March 2021, the new Fuel Cell Industry Review 2020 was published, complete with market data and detailed analysis. Since 2014, the team led by E4tech has been contacting fuel cell companies from across the globe, aggregating their shipment figures and producing an independent report each year on the current state of the fuel cell sector. Several extracts are provided here.
2020 was not the year many of us expected. But despite the very difficult situation brought about by COVID-19, fuel cell shipments continued to rise. The increase was much less than we anticipated at the end of 2019, both because of supply chain disruption and local economic slowdown, but is a very encouraging sign.
Germany‘s northeast is finally buzzing with activity. For a long time, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania’s hydrogen community had rarely made the news. However, that was before the state’s economy ministry announced at the hydrogen sector meeting in Güstrow on Aug. 21 that it plans to build a hydrogen research center. Stefan Rudolph, who works at the economy ministry, said that Mecklenburg-West Pomerania will receive around EUR 50 million for shutting down the coal power station in Rostock because of Germany‘s exit from coal-fired energy production.
Understanding how the presence of cations causes polymer electrolyte membranes to degrade is important to advancing PEM research. Fraunhofer ISE has been focused on analyzing various types of cations for their impact on perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) membranes. This analysis is significant in understanding the catalytic effect individual cations have on forming radicals that attack PFSA polymers. How chemical stable these polymers are was investigated using Fenton’s reaction.
The heart of PEM fuel cells is the membrane electrode assembly (MEA), which has so far been produced by using only polymer electrolyte membranes. The manufacture of these membranes, however, is highly complex and expensive, limiting MEA production to a few companies around the globe. An innovative method discovered by researchers from the Department of Microsystems Technology (IMTEK) at the University of Freiburg makes the membrane process technology obsolete
At the end of April 2015, GP Joule began testing its electricity fill-in concept. As part of the 200 kW H2 biogas project, the engineers at the head office of the company in Reussenköge, Germany, installed two electrolyzers, each with 5 kW stacks. In May, the plant was extended, with 16 additional stacks initially being installed. By the summer of 2015, the first four stacks were set to be replaced with a total of 24 new modules so that the nominal output then totals 200 kW. This enables
Japan’s ENE-FARM program is arguably the most successful fuel cell commercialization program in the world. ENE-FARM has supported the deployment of well over 120,000 residential fuel cell units and is providing proof that long term public-private partnerships can push new technology into the marketplace. New models coming on the market in 2015 are smaller, more efficient, cheaper and more easily installed than previous models.
In May 2015, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) presented the long-awaited funding instrument for the market launch of fuel cell heating devices. As announced by Minister of Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel, the market launch is to be supported via the so-called Energy Efficiency Incentive Program. The program is part of the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE), which was passed by the German federal government at the end of 2014. With other projects, it aims to contribute to a big improvement in the level of effectiveness in the construction sector. The package of measures has an annual funding volume