Development of Durable Materials for Cost Effective Advanced Water Splitting Utilizing All Ceramic Solid Oxide Electrolyzer Stack Technology

Recipient Saint-Gobain Ceramic & Plastics, Inc. (PI: John Pietras)

Subs Boston University (PI: Srikanth Gopalan) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory/PNNL (PI: Jeff Stevenson)

Water Splitting Technology HTE

Status Awarded

Abstract Hydrogen (H2) production using high temperature water splitting (HTWS) is a promising pathway to meet future H2 demand. HTWS offers the potential for theoretical efficiencies that approach 100% and, when combined with related achievements in solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology, support the promise of H2 production at under $2/kg. Despite this promise, critical barriers need to be addressed to achieve commercial viability. These barriers include degradation of materials and interfaces, as well as insufficient stack- and system-level performance. While a heightened fundamental understanding of these degradation mechanisms will enable new materials solutions that address current performance limitations, these challenges are fundamentally cross-cutting, and require an interdisciplinary approach that leverages resources from academia, industry, and government.

The proposed project builds on new developments in nickelate-based SOFC oxygen electrode materials. New chemistries in these materials have been co-developed by the core project team to prevent adverse reactions during processing and compositional drift during operation, and offer the potential to increase durability and longevity at the critical anode-electrolyte interface, while exceeding current state-of-the-art performance. With further development these advances offer significant promise as HTWS materials used in solid oxide electrolyzer cell (SOEC) technology. The promise of these materials includes compatibility with a novel, scalable, all-ceramic stack design that eliminates stack-level degradation mechanisms like metal interconnect oxidation and Cr contamination on catalysts upon metal evaporation.

The project team combines expertise from Saint-Gobain (SG), Boston University (BU), Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL), and members of the HydroGEN consortia. This cross-cutting expertise will work to:

  1. Understand and overcome key degradation modes for these nickelate-based materials. These efforts contribute to the knowledge base of materials and degradation modes for high-temperature electrolysis, and have potential for state-of-the-art performance.

  2. Incorporate these materials into a stack-level design with high stability, longevity, and manufacturability.

Analysis performed by the project team indicates that these advances can lead to a H2 production cost below $2/kg. Overcoming the risks associated with the transition of this effort provides a foundation for subsequent investment in scaling the SG technology. Under DOE funding, these results will establish the suitability of nickelate-based materials for H2 production in a wide range of stack architectures, and make these results available through the HydroGEN consortium. If project success criteria are met, SG intends to commercialize this technology to meet H2 production needs for fuel cell applications.