The Institute of Power Engineering (IEn) in Poland has developed and commercialized a system with stacks of solid oxide electrochemical cells fabricated using low-cost techniques, including additive manufacturing. The HYDROGIN system was delivered to CBRF Energa S.A., ORLEN. The modular installation with reversible solid oxide cells (rSOC), designed for integration with Energa’s combined heat and power station in Elblag, improves its flexibility of operation and increases the use of renewable energy sources for the production of hydrogen. The ceramic sealings for stacks of solid oxide cell stacks in HYDROGIN were fabricated using 3D printing using machines supplied by Sygnis S.A., a Polish R&D company.
The rSOC technology, in which seal printing technology was implemented, offers a great advantage thanks to its outstandingly high hydrogen generation efficiency (>92%) which outnumbers other types of electrolyzers. With this technology, excess energy from renewable energy sources can be efficiently stored in the form of hydrogen, which in turn can then be used directly in transportation or industry, or as a feedstock for the synthesis of alternative fuel, including sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs). The use of rSOC technology is particularly promising in the decarbonization of the chemical, petrochemical, metallurgical and other carbon-intensive industries.
“The installation is a small-scale demonstration of a first-of-a-kind system with stacks of solid oxide electrochemical cells that can operate interchangeably in electrolysis or fuel cell mode. The pilot plant which is thermally and electrically integrated with a CHP station proves that conventional power generation assets can play a new role as sources of steam and energy for large-scale hydrogen production. The replicability of this solution is extremely broad and can be successfully used in hydrogen generation for various industries and for energy storage. We are proud that the first in the world system of this type has been built based on our technology was constructed by the Institute of Power Engineering”, says Professor Jakub Kupecki, Director of the Institute of Power Engineering, and Director of the Center for Hydrogen Technologies (CTH2 IEn) in an interview with Energa S.A. – ORLEN.
The seals developed at the Institute of Power Engineering were made using an innovative method of 3D printing from ceramic paste using machines designed and manufactured by Sygnis S.A. specifically for this purpose. The use of additive manufacturing makes it possible to form a sealing material from glass paste with appropriate rheological properties directly on the flat and corrugated surfaces of elements of rSOC stack. It also makes it possible to create multilayer seals, thus allowing to optimize their thickness depending on the application and, as a result, to increase the efficiency of the process and maintain its high repeatability.
“We are very pleased to see that the machines we made on request for the Institute of Power Engineering, which we implemented consecutively within the last year, are now performing well. We congratulate Prof. Jakub Kupecki, Dr. Marek Skrzypkiewicz, Dr. Agnieszka Żurawska, and Ms. Magdalena Kosiorek and the team of CTH2 IEn for their great ideas, hard work and achievements. We are confident that Sygnis S.A.’s existing and upcoming technology solutions will accelerate the work of hundreds of other research groups around the world”, said Andrzej Burgs, CEO of Sygnis SA.
The innovative 3D printing technique for stacks of solid oxide cells is currently under further improvements in the frame of NEXTH2 project which is focused on the next generation of the HYDROGIN electrolyzer. The stack was awarded as the Polish Product for the Future, a Ministerial award during ENERGETAB 2023 energy fairs, and is supported by GreenEvo – an accelerating program of the Polish Ministry of Climate and Environment for green technologies. The real breakthrough of HYDROGIN is the 3D printing of seals directly onto stack components, such as ceramic cells or steel components. This offers several benefits over conventional techniques, including higher process yield, less waste, and making the production of stacks cheaper thanks to ready-to-scale-up automated manufacturing. This results in a lower cost of hydrogen production for various industries. This is an outstanding example of how advanced additive manufacturing can contribute to real implementations of new technologies for energy transition, which supports sustainable economies and serves humankind and the planet.