Activities Task 33

Local H2 Supply for Energy Applications

Operating Agent: Dr. Øystein Ulleberg, IFE, Norway
Term: 2013-2016

The main purpose with Task 33 is to contribute to the development, evaluation, and harmonization of on-site hydrogen production technologies and systems in order to facilitate optimal use of local feedstock and removal of barriers for introduction into energy markets. This will be achieved by continuing and strengthening an existing IEA network of reformer and electrolysers technology providers and hydrogen end-users, including gas and car companies (Figure 1). Task 33 Local hydrogen production for energy applications (2013-2015) is a continuation of Task 23 Small scale reformers for on-site hydrogen supply (2006-2011) and Annex 16 Subtask C on Small stationary reformers for distributed hydrogen production (2002-2005).
Term:  1 June 2010 - 31 December 2013
Purpose and Objectives: 

The main purpose with Task 33 is to provide an unbiased evaluation of various pathways for local hydrogen supply for energy applications.
The Task 33 objectives are:
1. to assess local hydrogen supply systems and on-site hydrogen production technologies
2. to monitor, review, and evaluate new on-site hydrogen production technologies and system concepts and
3. to tudy barriers and opportunities for local hydrogen energy supply in existing and future energy markets

Task 33 is organized in the three following subtasks:
Subtask 1 – Technology Assessment
(Leader: Everett Anderson, Proton Onsite, USA)
The goal of Subtask 1 is to assess the technological and economic level of available on-site hydrogen supply. The sub-goals within Subtask 1 is to evaluate system design (containerization, modularization, etc.), operation (compressor challenges etc.), costs (CAPEX and OPEX), and propose how to reduce costs (standardization, mass manufacturing of systems and units, outsourcing, etc.).
Subtask 2 – New Concepts
(Leader: Christian Hulteberg, Lund University, Sweden)
The goal of Subtask 2 is to monitor and review new system concepts and technologies for local hydrogen production. The sub-goals within Subtask 2 is to study fuel feedstock options and available hydrogen production technologies, assess future demands on hydrogen quality, and evaluate next generation reformers and electrolyzer technologies and system concepts.
Subtask 3 – Barriers and Opportunities
(Leader: Bruno Forget, Air Liquide, France)
The goal of Subtask 3 is to develop concepts for harmonization of technologies for local hydrogen supply. The sub-goals within Subtask 3 is to study barriers and opportunities for local hydrogen supply, develop new business cases, study standards and their relevance to the technology, and develop technological interfaces to support the social acceptance of local hydrogen production systems.

Task 33 currently consists of 18 members from 17 different organizations in 12 countries (Table 1). The operating agent, the three subtask leaders, and the other experts in Task 33 are highly motivated and experienced professionals, all coming from organizations with long experience in the field of hydrogen. The number of participants in Task 33 is slightly higher than in the past Task 23.

  Name Organization Country Category
1 Adwin Martens WaterstofNET Belgium Hydrogen network
2 Andrew Murphy Shell The Netherlands Gas Company
3 Bruno Forget Air Liquide France Gas Company
4 Bjorn Simonsen NEL Hydrogen Norway Electrolyzers
5 Christian Hulteberg Lund University Sweden Research
6 Dick Lieftink HyGear The Netherlands Reformers
7 Everett Anderson Proton Onsite USA Electrolyzers
8 Frederik Silversand Catator AB Sweden Reformers
9 Georgio Tsotridis Joint Research Center (JRC) EU Research
10 Jaques Saint-Just GDF SUEZ France Gas Company
11 John Bogild Hansen Haldor Topso Denmark Reformers
12 Oliver Paturet Nissan EU Car Reformers
13 Ralph Staub Mahler Germany Reformers
14 Retsu Hayashida Mitsubishi Kakoki Kaisha Ltd. (MMK) Japan Reformers
15 Roel De Maeyer Hydrogenics Belgium Electrolyzers
16 Stephane Fortin GDF SUEZ France Gas Company
17 Youngchul Lee Kore Gas Corp. (KOGAS) South Korea Gas Company
18 Oystein Ulleberg Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) Norway Research

Progress and Products:

A summary of the activities (subtasks and meetings) in Tasks 33 is provided below.

1. Expert meeting #1 (kick-off meeting), 25-26 February 2013, Paris, France
2. Expert meeting #2, 25-26 September 2013, Wallingford, USA
3. Expert meeting #3, 20-21 February 2014, Lenzburg, Switzerland
4. Expert meeting #4, 23-24 September, Oevel, Belgium
Subtask 1 – Technology Assessment of Water Electrolyzers
Small-scale water electrolyzers are typically delivered in modular and containerized systems with a hydrogen production capacity of 30-60 Nm3/h consisting of several small stacks (10-15 Nm3/h). New and more efficient water electrolyzer technology for 1-2 MW systems are under commercial development. Stack costs are still the most dominant cost driver. New PEM water electrolyzers capable of operating at high current densities for better integration with fluctuating renewable power system are under development. On a system level there is focus on reducing the amount of components and materials, and on the development of more efficient balance of plants and power conversion systems.
The specific costs (CAPEX) for small-scale water electrolyzers varies between 5000-12000 USD per Nm3/h, depending on the capacity (50-500 Nm3/h) and type of technology (PEM or alkaline). The stack costs account for about 42-47% of overall CAPEX. In comparison, large-scale (>1000 Nm3/h) industrial alkaline water electrolyzers systems have a specific cost around 4000-5000 USD per Nm3/h. This specific total system costs, including hydrogen compressor and storage, also goes down with increasing capacity, which indicates how important it is to build relatively large local hydrogen supply systems.
Subtask 1 – Technology Assessment of Reformers
New and more flexible designs for reformer unis with respect to hydrogen production (1-50 Nm3/h per reformer tube) are under development, and highly compact (containerized) reformer systems (250 Nm3/h) are now being tested and validated. For small-scale reformer systems in the low range (50-100 Nm3/h) the main cost reductions (CAPEX) can be obtained by increasing the sales volume, while for small-scale reformer in the high range (250-500 Nm3/h) the largest cost saving can be made by using less materials by making the systems more compact.
The specific costs (CAPEX) for small-scale reformers is around 5000-12000 USD per Nm3/h, depending on the capacity (50-500 Nm3/h). In comparison, large-scale (>1000 Nm3/h) reformers have a specific cost around 1000-3000 USD per Nm3/h. These results indicate that compact local small-scale reformers with a large hydrogen capacity (500 Nm3/h) may be competitive with more traditional centralized large-scale reformers with a low hydrogen production capacity (1000 Nm3/h), depending on the local situation with respect to fuel supply and hydrogen distribution.

Subtask 2 – New Concepts
New concepts for local hydrogen production are being analyzed, with focus on concepts that address the following two major future energy challenges:
1. Uptake of the increased amount of variable renewable energy
2. Large scale storage of renewable energy
Different Power-to-gas (PtG) concepts are being considered, where renewable energy based hydrogen produced via water electrolysis is used in CO2 methanation to increase the yield from the same amount of substrate (e.g. biogas). The water electrolyzer companies are mainly focusing on low-temperature water electrolysis, which requires separate handling of H2 and CO2 before the gases are combined in a methanator.
The two main challenges with the PtG-concept based on low-temperature water electrolysis is the low overall energy efficiency and high costs. An alternative PtG-concept is to use high-temperature solid oxide electrolysis (SOECs), but here the product gas is a syngas (SNG or upgraded biogas) and hydrogen is only used internally in the process. The high-temperature SOEC option has the best potential for a high energy conversion efficiency (up to 80% overall exergy efficiency).
New sorption enhanced reforming (SER) methods are also under development. SER has the potential for high overall conversion efficiency (up to 95% hydrogen yield) combined with CO2-capture. Local hydrogen production via reforming of biogas from waste water treatment plants has been identified as a near-term application for small-scale reformers.
There are several economic and financial issues related to the PtG-concept, as it today is only possible to monetize the energy content of a renewable energy based gas as the climate benefit is currently not being valued. Barriers for energy storage assets must be removed, markets for load-based ancillary services must be created, and the climate value must be monetized. Today there exists few tariffs for biogas and renewable SNG, and in the future it will be necessary to value the renewable H2 or SNG for decarbonizing the gas grid, heat sector, and transportation sector.

Subtask 3 – Opportunities and Barriers
There are several opportunities and barriers for local hydrogen supply system. A comparison between on-site hydrogen production systems and bulk hydrogen delivered by trucks is provided in the Table 2 below.
Specific Challenge on HRS for FCEVs
The growing market for hydrogen refueling stations (HRS) for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) is one of the main opportunities for local hydrogen supply systems. However, one of the major challenges with this market is the strict standard on hydrogen quality for FCEVs (SAE 2719), which requires a hydrogen quality of 9.995% and < 0.2 ppm CO, among others. Small-scale hydrogen production systems can meet these technical requirements at nominal operating conditions, but there are challenges with energy efficiency for systems with frequent start/stops, particularly for reformer based systems. Furthermore, the FCEV standard also makes it necessary to install sophisticated and expensive gas monitoring systems.

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