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Can high temperature steam electrolysis function with geothermal heat?

International Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijhydene.2006.11.026
  • Techno-Economic Optimization
  • Hydrogen Production
  • High Temperature Electrolysis
  • Genetic Algorithms
  • Geothermics
  • Iceland
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • Mathematics


Abstract It is possible to improve the performance of electrolysis processes by operating at a high temperature. This leads to a reduction in electricity consumption but requires a part of the energy necessary for the dissociation of water to be in the form of thermal energy. Iceland produces low cost electricity and very low cost geothermal heat. However, the temperature of geothermal heat is considerably lower than the temperature required at the electrolyser's inlet, making heat exchangers necessary to recuperate part of the heat contained in the gases at the electrolyser's outlet. A techno-economic optimisation model devoted to a high-temperature electrolysis (HTE) process which includes electrolysers as well as a high temperature heat exchanger network was created. Concerning the heat exchangers, the unit costs used in the model are based on industrial data. For the electrolyser cells, the unit cost scaling law and the physical sub-model we used were formulated using analogies with solid oxide fuel cells. The method was implemented in a software tool, which performs the optimisation using genetic algorithms. The first application of the method is done by taking into account the prices of electricity and geothermal heat in the Icelandic context. It appears that even with a geothermal temperature as low as 230 ∘ C , the HTE could compete with alkaline electrolysis.

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