Water electrolysis

Effcient and cost-effective generation of renewable hydrogen

Reducing the emission of greenhouse gases such as CO2 is one of the most important societal challenges. Hydrogen generated from renewable energy sources via water electrolysis can be used in a variety of ways. In mobility, hydrogen can enable emission-free mobility with short refuelling times and high vehicle rang es. When used in industrial applications, the CO2 emissions caused by these industries can be signifcantly reduced. By feeding into the gas supply network, the dependence of the heat supply system in Germany on imported natural gas can be lowered and the overall CO2 emission of the heat supply reduced. By storing hydrogen in the gas network or in underground caverns, electricity can be generated at a later time, so that the fluctuating input of renewable power can be decoupled from power consumption.

Today’s water electrolysers must be further developed in order to ensure lower investment and operational costs as well as a better durability in highly dynamic operations. Through the development of new production methods for catalysts, as well as the use of modern coating techniques, the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics has been able to address these goals. The investigations range from material and component characterisation to the operation of single cells and cell stacks, as well as demonstration in technical systems. Any developments are thus being successfully put into practice.

Different techniques of water electrolysis are available depending on the required application. Dynamic, highly effcient systems are based on polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysis, alkaline electrolysis is used for cost-effective, very long-lived systems, and ceramic oxide electrolysis is used in highly effcient systems that include an on-site heat source. All techniques are studied and further developed at the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics. The work is carried out in national and international cooperation ventures with industry, research institutions and universities.

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Prof. Kaspar Andreas Friedrich E-Mail: andreas.friedrich@dlr.de · DLR.de/en