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Title: DESIGN AND PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES OF THE SINGLE CELL TEST SYSTEM FOR SO2 DEPOLARIZED ELECTROLYZER DEVELOPMENT

Abstract

The single cell test system development for the SRNL sulfur dioxide-depolarized electrolyzer has been completed. Operating experience and improved operating procedures were developed during test operations in FY06 and the first quarter of FY07. Eight different cell configurations, using various MEA designs, have been tested. The single cell test electrolyzer has been modified to overcome difficulties experienced during testing, including modifications to the inlet connection to eliminate minute acid leaks that caused short circuits. The test facility was modified by adding a water bath for cell heating, thus permitting operation over a wider range of flowrates and cell temperatures. Modifications were also identified to permit continuous water flushing of the cathode to remove sulfur, thus extending operating time between required shutdowns. This is also expected to permit a means of independently measuring the rate of sulfur formation, and the corresponding SO{sub 2} flux through the membrane. This report contains a discussion of the design issues being addressed by the single cell test program, a test matrix being conducted to address these issues, and a summary of the performance objectives for the single cell test system. The current primary objective of single cell test system is to characterize and qualify electrolyzermore » configurations for the following 100-hour longevity tests. Although the single cell test system development is considered complete, SRNL will continue to utilize the test facility and the single cell electrolyzer to measure the operability and performance of various cell design configurations, including new MEA's produced by the component development tasks.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
SRS
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
899307
Report Number(s):
WSRC-STI-2007-00002
TRN: US200709%%80
DOE Contract Number:
DE-AC09-96SR18500
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; TEST FACILITIES; DESIGN; PERFORMANCE; SULFUR DIOXIDE; ELECTROLYSIS; TESTING

Citation Formats

Steimke, J. DESIGN AND PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES OF THE SINGLE CELL TEST SYSTEM FOR SO2 DEPOLARIZED ELECTROLYZER DEVELOPMENT. United States: N. p., 2007. Web. doi:10.2172/899307.
Steimke, J. DESIGN AND PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES OF THE SINGLE CELL TEST SYSTEM FOR SO2 DEPOLARIZED ELECTROLYZER DEVELOPMENT. United States. doi:10.2172/899307.
Steimke, J. Mon . "DESIGN AND PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES OF THE SINGLE CELL TEST SYSTEM FOR SO2 DEPOLARIZED ELECTROLYZER DEVELOPMENT". United States. doi:10.2172/899307. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/899307.
@article{osti_899307,
title = {DESIGN AND PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES OF THE SINGLE CELL TEST SYSTEM FOR SO2 DEPOLARIZED ELECTROLYZER DEVELOPMENT},
author = {Steimke, J},
abstractNote = {The single cell test system development for the SRNL sulfur dioxide-depolarized electrolyzer has been completed. Operating experience and improved operating procedures were developed during test operations in FY06 and the first quarter of FY07. Eight different cell configurations, using various MEA designs, have been tested. The single cell test electrolyzer has been modified to overcome difficulties experienced during testing, including modifications to the inlet connection to eliminate minute acid leaks that caused short circuits. The test facility was modified by adding a water bath for cell heating, thus permitting operation over a wider range of flowrates and cell temperatures. Modifications were also identified to permit continuous water flushing of the cathode to remove sulfur, thus extending operating time between required shutdowns. This is also expected to permit a means of independently measuring the rate of sulfur formation, and the corresponding SO{sub 2} flux through the membrane. This report contains a discussion of the design issues being addressed by the single cell test program, a test matrix being conducted to address these issues, and a summary of the performance objectives for the single cell test system. The current primary objective of single cell test system is to characterize and qualify electrolyzer configurations for the following 100-hour longevity tests. Although the single cell test system development is considered complete, SRNL will continue to utilize the test facility and the single cell electrolyzer to measure the operability and performance of various cell design configurations, including new MEA's produced by the component development tasks.},
doi = {10.2172/899307},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Jan 15 00:00:00 EST 2007},
month = {Mon Jan 15 00:00:00 EST 2007}
}

Technical Report:

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  • This document reports work performed at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) that further develops the use of a proton exchange membrane or PEM-type electrochemical cell to produce hydrogen via SO{sub 2}-depolarized water electrolysis. This work was begun at SRNL in 2005. This research is valuable in achieving the ultimate goal of an economical hydrogen production process based on the Hybrid Sulfur (HyS) Cycle. The HyS Process is a hybrid thermochemical cycle that may be used in conjunction with advanced nuclear reactors or centralized solar receivers to produce hydrogen by water-splitting. Like all other sulfur-based cycles, HyS utilizes the highmore » temperature thermal decomposition of sulfuric acid to produce oxygen. The unique aspect of HyS is the generation of hydrogen in a water electrolyzer that is operated under conditions where dissolved sulfur dioxide depolarizes the anodic reaction, resulting in substantial voltage reduction. Sulfur dioxide is oxidized at the anode, producing sulfuric acid that is sent to the acid decomposition portion of the cycle. The focus of this work was to conduct single cell electrolyzer tests in order to prove the concept of SO{sub 2}-depolarization and to determine how the results can be used to evaluate the performance of key components of the HyS Process. A test facility for conducting SO{sub 2}-depolarized electrolyzer (SDE) testing was designed, constructed and commissioned. The maximum cell current is 50 amperes, which is equivalent to a hydrogen production rate of approximately 20 liters per hour. Feed to the anode of the electrolyzer is sulfuric acid solutions containing dissolved sulfur dioxide. The partial pressure of sulfur dioxide may be varied in the range of 1 to 6 atm (15 to 90 psia). Temperatures may be controlled in the range from ambient to 80 C. Hydrogen generated at the cathode of the cell is collected for the purpose of flow measurement and composition analysis. The test facility proved to be easy to operate, versatile, and reliable.« less
  • SRNL received funding in FY 2005 to test the Hybrid Sulfur (HyS) Process for generating hydrogen. This technology employs an electrolyzer that uses a sulfur dioxide depolarized anode to greatly reduce the electrical energy requirement. The required current is the same as for conventional electrolysis of water, but the required cell voltage is reduced. The electrolyzer is a key part of HyS technology. Completing the material loop for HyS requires a high temperature decomposition of sulfuric acid to regenerate the sulfur dioxide gas needed for the anode reaction. Oxygen is also produced and could be sold. The decomposition of sulfuricmore » acid is being studied by others in a separately funded task. It is not included in this SRNL task.« less
  • The Hybrid Sulfur (HyS) process is one of the leading thermochemical cycles being studied as part of the DOE Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative (NHI). SRNL is conducting analyses and research and development for the Department of Energy on the HyS process. A conceptual design report and development plan for the HyS process was issued on April 1, 2005 [Buckner, et. al., 2005] , and a report on atmospheric testing of a sulfur dioxide depolarized electrolyzer (SDE), a major component of the HyS process, was issued on August 1, 2005 [Steimke, 2005]. The purpose of this report is to document work relatedmore » to the design and experimental test plan for a pressurized SDE. Pressurized operation of the SDE is a key requirement for development of an efficient and cost-effective HyS process. The HyS process, a hybrid thermochemical cycle proposed and investigated in the 1970s and early 1980s by Westinghouse Electric Corporation, is a high priority candidate for NHI due to the potential for high efficiency and its relatively high level of technical maturity. It was demonstrated in laboratory experiments by Westinghouse in 1978. Process improvements and component advancements that build on that work are being pursued. One of the objectives of the current work is to develop the SDE in order to permit the demonstration of a closed-loop laboratory model of the HyS process. The heart of the HyS process for generating hydrogen is a bank of electrolyzers incorporating sulfur dioxide depolarized anodes. SRNL planned, designed, built and operated a facility for testing single cell electrolyzers at ambient temperature and near atmospheric pressure during the spring and summer of 2005. The major contribution of the SRNL work was the establishment of the proof-of-concept for utilizing the proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) cell design for the SDE operation. Since PEM cells are being extensively developed for automotive fuel cell use, they offer significant potential for cost-effective application for the HyS Process. This report discusses the modifications necessary to the existing SRNL sulfur dioxide depolarized electrolyzer test facility to allow testing at up to 80 C and 90 psig. Because of the need for significant additional equipment and the ability to infer performance results to higher pressures, it recommends delaying further modifications to support testing at up to 300 psig (the commercial goal) until other, higher priority technical issues are addressed. These issues include membrane material selection, component designs, catalyst type and loading, etc. The factors and rationale that should be considered in developing and executing a detailed test matrix for pressurized operation are also discussed. In addition, an electrolyzer assembly design has been developed to allow the testing of different Membrane Electrode Assemblies (MEA's) as part of the planned FY06 HyS Development Program to complete selection of component design specifications for the HyS electrolyzer. MEA's are used in PEM cells to allow intimate contact and minimal resistance between the electrodes and the electrolyte layer. The pressurized electrolyzer assembly presented in this report will facilitate rapid change-out and testing of various MEA designs as part of the electrolyzer development effort.« less
  • This document reports the results of Phase I Single Cell testing of an SO{sub 2}-Depolarized Water Electrolyzer. Testing was performed primarily during the first quarter of FY 2008 at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) using an electrolyzer cell designed and built at SRNL. Other facility hardware were also designed and built at SRNL. This test further advances this technology for which work began at SRNL in 2005. This research is valuable in achieving the ultimate goal of an economical hydrogen production process based on the Hybrid Sulfur (HyS) Cycle. The focus of this work was to conduct single cellmore » electrolyzer tests to further develop the technology of SO{sub 2}-depolarized electrolysis as part of the HyS Cycle. The HyS Cycle is a hybrid thermochemical cycle that may be used in conjunction with advanced nuclear reactors or centralized solar receivers to produce hydrogen by water-splitting. Like all other sulfur-based cycles, HyS utilizes the high temperature thermal decomposition of sulfuric acid to produce oxygen and regenerate sulfur dioxide. The unique aspect of HyS is the generation of hydrogen in a water electrolyzer that is operated under conditions where dissolved sulfur dioxide depolarizes the anodic reaction, resulting in substantial voltage reduction. Low cell voltage is essential for both thermodynamic efficiency and hydrogen cost. Sulfur dioxide is oxidized at the anode, producing sulfuric acid that is sent to the high temperature acid decomposition portion of the cycle. The electrolyzer cell uses the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) concept. The anode and cathode are formed by spraying platinum containing catalyst on both sides of a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM). In most testing the material of the PEM was NafionR. The electrolyzer cell active area can be as large as 54.8 cm{sup 2}. Feed to the anode of the electrolyzer is a sulfuric acid solution containing sulfur dioxide. The partial pressure of sulfur dioxide could be varied in the range of 1 to 6 atm (15 to 90 psia). Temperatures could be controlled in the range from ambient to 80 C. Hydrogen generated at the cathode of the cell was collected for the purpose of flow measurement and composition analysis. The test facility proved to be easy to operate, versatile, and reliable.« less