Linq Consulting & Management is pleased to officially announce the successful completion of another Horizon Europe proposal: OUTFOX.
What is OUTFOX?
OUTFOX is a project aimed at reducing the cost of hydrogen production through the advancement of solid oxide electrolyzer (SOEL) technology. It brings together a strong group of partners from across Europe, including VTT, Elcogen AS and OY, Shell Global Solutions International, Convion, Politecnico Di Milano and is led by TNO. The project will result in the development and validation of upscaled solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOEC) to create large stacks and modules that will be integrated into a multi-MW scale electrolysis unit. This will bring forward a cost-effective green hydrogen production system that utilizes renewable sources of energy such as solar thermal energy and biomethane and, eventually, the mature OUTFOX technology can be implemented globally to capture CO2 emissions and meet international standards and emissions reduction targets.
The project has the potential to create several scientific, economic, and societal impacts, including associated benefits from advancements in hydrogen production and SOEC technology, growth in the global SOEC market, and clean energy for industry.
What is SOEC?
Solid oxide hydrogen electrolysis is a process of producing hydrogen, and in the case of OUTFOX, this is done with stacked cell technology, which is gaining popularity as an alternative to conventional steam methane reforming (SMR – not to be confused with small modular reactors, which offer a completely different form of energy production). SMR is currently the most commonly used method of hydrogen production, but is very energy-intensive and releases CO2 as a by-product. This is avoided by electrolysis, if renewable or other carbon-free energy is an input.
One of the latest developments in solid oxide hydrogen electrolysis is the use of stacked cells, which provide several benefits over traditional single cells. Stacked cells increase the surface area available for electrolysis, leading to higher hydrogen production rates, and also allow for greater design flexibility as cells can be stacked in a variety of configurations to optimize performance and efficiency. Additionally, stacked cells offer improved thermal management, as the heat generated during the electrolysis process can be more effectively dissipated.
One of the two main advantages of stacked cells (and one of the primary areas of focus for OUTFOX) is their ability to produce hydrogen at higher temperatures, which increases efficiency and reduces the cost of hydrogen production. This is because the ionic conductivity of the solid oxide electrode material increases with temperature, leading to faster hydrogen ion transport and greater hydrogen production rates. The other main benefit of stacked cells is their scalability, as the hydrogen production capacity can be easily increased by adding more cells to the stack. This is crucial for commercial applications, considering the anticipated growth in demand for hydrogen production in the coming years. Addressing this need, the OUTFOX project focuses on exploring the long-term stability and durability of these SOEC stacks. This is particularly important due to the increased surface area, which raises the risk of degradation and performance loss.
The current state of SOEC - at a glance
The global solid oxide fuel cell market size was valued at $273.8 million in 2020, and it is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42.2% from 2021 to 2028.
SOEC technology is becoming one of the fastest-growing alternate backup power options due to their ability to generate electricity using a variety of fuels, as well as their eco-friendly nature.
Scaling up solid oxide fuel cell technology in the EU will strengthen the position of solid oxide cell stack industries and improve competitiveness of EU industry within the continent and overseas.
Scaled-up cells will also lead to large-scale industrial hydrogen production, reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and create new business opportunities for SOEL technology adoption.
Potential Benefits of OUTFOX
As with any Horizon Europe project, it is important to address and properly communicate the benefits that will be brought forth by the technology being proposed. Below is a short summary of the scientific, economic, and societal benefits that OUTFOX will achieve.
OUTFOX aims to bring scientific advancements in the production and testing of large-scale hydrogen production using cells that are significantly larger than anything currently on the market or that has been reported to date. The performance and durability SOEC systems will be validated through long-term testing followed by post-test degradation analysis of stacks or assemblies of stacks which will be able to increase the power at the optimal defined size and improve cell/stack lifetimes. These insights will not only move SOEC technology closer to commercialization but also lead to more effective uses of renewable energy sources, improved P2X solutions, and decreased dependency on fossil fuels.
As stated above, the global SOEC market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 42.2% from 2021 to 2028, driven by the growing demand for unconventional energy sources. Since SOECs are eco-friendly and can generate electricity using a variety of fuels, scaling up of this technology can not only strengthen the position of solid oxide cell stack industries within Europe, but low-cost hydrogen from SOEC can also improve the competitiveness of the EU industry as a whole. On a global level, scaled-up cells will create new business opportunities and open up applications for large-scale industrial hydrogen production.
OUTFOX's technology has the potential to provide numerous positive societal benefits such as a greater availability of clean energy for transport and industry, reducing the need for carbon-intensive fuels while providing viable replacements. This will enable people to maintain their standard of living while reducing carbon emissions significantly below current levels, contributing to the EU's goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The use of OUTFOX's SOEC system would also result in the use of less material due to thinner cells, addressing throughput material sustainability and greenhouse gas reductions.
Keep up to date with OUTFOX
Information on funding for other Horizon Europe projects
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