Energy and exergy analysis of hydrogen production by solid oxide steam electrolyzer plant

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4648-4660
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


Energy and exergy analysis has been conducted to investigate the thermodynamic-electrochemical characteristics of hydrogen production by a solid oxide steam electrolyzer (SOSE) plant. All overpotentials involved in the SOSE cell have been included in the thermodynamic model. The waste heat in the gas stream of the SOSE outlet is recovered to preheat the H2O stream by a heat exchanger. The heat production by the SOSE cell due to irreversible losses has been investigated and compared with the SOSE cell's thermal energy demand. It is found that the SOSE cell normally operates in an endothermic mode at a high temperature while it is more likely to operate in an exothermic mode at a low temperature as the heat production due to overpotentials exceeds the thermal energy demand. A diagram of energy and exergy flows in the SOSE plant helps to identify the sources and quantify the energy and exergy losses. The exergy analysis reveals that the SOSE cell is the major source of exergy destruction. The energy analysis shows that the energy loss is mainly caused by inefficiency of the heat exchangers. The effects of some important operating parameters, such as temperature, current density, and H2O flow rate, on the plant efficiency have been studied. Optimization of these parameters can achieve maximum energy and exergy efficiencies. The findings show that the difference between energy efficiency and exergy efficiency is small as the high-temperature thermal energy input is only a small fraction of the total energy input. In addition, the high-temperature waste heat is of high quality and can be recovered. In contrast, for a low-temperature electrolysis plant, the difference between the energy and exergy efficiencies is more apparent because considerable amount of low-temperature waste heat contains little exergy and cannot be recovered effectively. This study provides a better understanding of the energy and exergy flows in SOSE hydrogen production and demonstrates the importance of exergy analysis for identifying and quantifying the exergy destruction. The findings of the present study can further be applied to perform process optimization to maximize the cost-effectiveness of SOSE hydrogen production. © 2007 International Association for Hydrogen Energy.

Research Area(s)

  • Exergy analysis, Irreversibility, SOSE hydrogen production, Waste heat recovery