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Structure of an electrolysis stack, built after the principle of individual-cell hydraulic pressing

AEMruhr

Alkaline Membrane Electrolysis Using Hydraulic Pressing

Starting Point

Energy production using renewable resources such as the wind and the sun is a dynamic process and thus requires storage systems that offer the same dynamic responsive characteristics. Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysis is expected to be an appropriate solution for the decentralised long-term storage of surplus energy from renewable sources; however, their construction requires the use of cost-intensive precious metal catalysts. To reduce costs, and at the same time increase energy storage using electrolysis, research is currently focusing on the use of anion exchange membrane water electrolysis (AEMWA), which requires neither precious metal catalysts nor titanium electrodes.

ruhrvalley Solution

The partners in the ruhrvalley project AEMruhr research and work on developing and testing an AEMWE system based on hydraulic cell-pressing. Using this patented technology, it is possible to connect innovative cell components together to form an electrolysis stack with increased current density.

In hydraulic pressing, the cells are surrounded by flexible pouches immersed in a hydraulic fluid; when pressure is applied, all the cell components are homogeneously pressed. In this way, any number of cells with any number of active cell surfaces can be used. The capacity of such systems is adjustable and can thus adapt to the changing requirements of decentralised operation.

Project AEMruhr combines the principle of hydraulic pressing with an alkaline membrane to combine the advantages of the innovative stack concept with the advantages of alkaline electrolysis. By foregoing the uses of rare and expensive precious metals such as platinum and iridium, alkaline electrolysis has the potential to provide inexpensive hydrogen production. However, it is thanks to the use of the proper membranes the technology has now become attractive for its application in decentralised operation combined with renewable energy sources and their related dynamic characteristics. 

System architecture of the AEMruhr platform
System architecture of the AEMruhr platform

The objective of the project is to build an alkaline membrane electrolyser with an output of 50kW. This prototype will be designed for decentralised operation but can be controlled centrally in the future. For this purpose, the decentralised AEMWE installations are interconnected into a virtual load using especial hardware modules (smart device controllers). The interconnected the decentralised AEMWE installations can be used to their maximum potential.

All the information required to interconnect the facilities into a virtual load are transmitted asynchronously to the platform via message. The platform connects the individual electrolysers into one, and the individual and the total outputs are presented on a dashboard. Additionally, it is possible to control individual electrolysers through the platform’s settings. The simplest example would be the possibility to turn an electrolyser on and off.

Key Areas

  • Alkaline membrane electrolysis
  • Hydraulic individual-cell pressing
  • High-pressure electrolysis
  • Decentralised hydrogen production
  • Microservice architecture
  • Model-driven software development
  • Smart energy load management

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Information on funding and further project participants

Funding code: 13FH0I62IA, 13FH0I61IA

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