High temperature steam electrolysis is a promising technology for efficiently sustainable large-scale hydrogen production. Solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs) are able to utilize high temperature heat and electric power from advanced high-temperature nuclear reactors or renewable sources to generate carbon-free hydrogen at large scale. However, long term durability of SOECs needs to be improved significantly before commercialization of this technology. A degradation rate of 1%/khr or lower is proposed as a threshold value for commercialization of this technology. Solid oxide electrolysis stack tests have been conducted at Idaho National Laboratory to demonstrate recent improvements in long-term durability of SOECs. Electrolyte-supported and electrode-supported SOEC stacks were provided by Ceramatec Inc., Materials and Systems Research Inc. (MSRI), and Saint Gobain Advanced Materials (St. Gobain), respectively for these tests. Long-term durability tests were generally operated for a duration of 1000 hours or more. Stack tests based on technologies developed at Ceramatec and MSRI have shown significant improvement in durability in the electrolysis mode. Long-term degradation rates of 3.2%/khr and 4.6%/khr were observed for MSRI and Ceramatec stacks, respectively. One recent Ceramatec stack even showed negative degradation (performance improvement) over 1900 hours of operation. A three-cell short stack provided by St. Gobain, however, showed rapid degradation in the electrolysis mode. Optimizations of electrode materials, interconnect coatings, and electrolyte-electrode interface microstructures contribute to better durability of SOEC stacks.

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