PEM electrolysis coupled with thermal energy storage – pv magazine International


Chinese researchers claim to have improved the performance of a proton exchange membrane electrolyzer by connecting it to a thermal energy storage system.

A research group from China has shown how proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis could be combined with thermal energy storage to maintain a high-efficiency operating range for electrolyzers when renewable energy is connected to hydrogen production systems.

PEM electrolyzers cannot maintain stable operating temperatures as input power changes, as the polarization curve distortions with the change of temperature.

“This work proposes a PEM electrolyzer coupled with the thermal energy storage device to meet power fluctuation and frequent start and stop caused by renewable resources,” the scientists said.

Heat storage subsystem

Image: International Journal of Photoenergy, Creative Commons License CC BY 4.0

The heat storage subsystem can store heat through a plate heat exchanger. This heat can then be used for PEM electrolysis when input power fluctuates. The pressing subsystem is used to overcome the resistance loss of the circulating water system, which makes the water continuously flowing in the loop.

The scientists tested the maintaining system the water flow into the electrolyzer at 200 mL per minute per cell. They found that it presented a higher current density under the same power consumption, leading to a higher hydrogen yield.

“The inlet water temperature of electrolyzer reached around 58 C in 30 seconds and promoted the electrolytic system to run quickly and persistently in an efficient condition,” they said. “Meanwhile, the coupled system can effectively reduce electrolytic voltages during the process of start-stop or load changing, and the maximum difference of power consumption per cell can reach around 12 W.”

They presented their findings in “Experimental and Analytical Study of a Proton Exchange Membrane Electrolyser Integrated with Thermal Energy Storage for Performance Enhancement,” which was recently published in the International Journal of Photoenergy.

“The coupled system effectively reduces energy consumption in the process of start-stop or load changing, which can effectively adapt to the power fluctuation and frequent start and stop caused by renewable energy,” the scientists said.

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