Conventional Water Electrolysis

Conventional alkaline electrolysis works with an aqueous alkaline electrolyte. The cathode and anode areas are separated by a micro-porous diaphragm to prevent mixing of the product gases. Presently in Germany, conventional unpressurised electrolysis utilizes new materials that replace the previously used asbestos diaphragm. With output pressures of 2 - 5 bar these processes can reach efficiencies, related to the lower heating value of hydrogen, of around 65%. Newly developed diaphragms and membranes from other materials demonstrate, through their good turn off characteristics, relatively good reliability when subject to fluctuating operating conditions. They are therefore applicable in conjunction with renewable energy technologies.

Conventional water electrolysers have been in use commercially for many decades. Units with capacities from 1 kWe to 125 MWe are available. The Electrolyser Corporation Ltd. (Canada) and Norsk Hydro Electrolysers AS (Norway) are well established manufacturers of conventional elctrolysers, offering units with very high capacity. Several manufacturers have also established themselves in the 1 - 100 kW range in Europe (e.g. Ammonia Casale, ELWATEC, Hidroenergia VCST (up to 1 MPa), vHS (von-Hoerner-System; up to 30 bar but also unpressurised).

1: Flange for compression 2: Insulator plate 3: Cathode side, bus bar 4: Cathodic end plate 5: Cathodic support collector

6: Membrane-electrodes composite 7: Anodic support collector 8: Bipolar collector 9: Anodic end plate 10: Anode side bus bar

1: Flange for compression 2: Insulator plate 3: Cathode side, bus bar 4: Cathodic end plate 5: Cathodic support collector

6: Membrane-electrodes composite 7: Anodic support collector 8: Bipolar collector 9: Anodic end plate 10: Anode side bus bar

Figure B.6 Schematic of SPEWE module consisting of 5 cells with a total electrode of 500 cm production capacity of 2 Nm3/h, from [96]

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