Bloom Energy announced the initial results of its ongoing demonstration with Idaho National Laboratory (INL). With nearly 500 hours of full-load operation completed at the laboratory, Bloom’s high-temperature electrolyzer is producing hydrogen more efficiently than other commercially available electrolyzers, including PEM and alkaline.
Researchers at INL have been conducting a variety of tests on Bloom Energy’s solid oxide electrolyzer at the Dynamic Energy Testing and Integration Laboratory, including steam and load simulations that replicate nuclear power station conditions, an important step in validating full compatibility with a nuclear facility.
Running at high temperatures and high availability, the pilot results reveal the Bloom Electrolyzer is producing hydrogen at 37.7 kWh per kilogram of hydrogen and with 88.5% LHV (Lower Heating Value) to DC. Dynamic testing has also been conducted and included ramping the system from 100% of rated power to 5% in less than 10 minutes without adverse system impacts.
The Bloom Electrolyzer is, without a doubt, the most efficient electrolyzer we have tested to-date at INL. When hydrogen is produced from a clean, 24/7 source, like nuclear, it can help us address some of the significant challenges we face around decarbonization. Pairing the research and development capabilities of a national laboratory with innovative and forward-thinking organizations like Bloom Energy is how we make rapidly reducing the costs of clean hydrogen a reality and a real step toward changing the world’s energy future.—John Wagner, director, Idaho National Labs
Operating continuously and providing high-quality steam input, nuclear plants are well positioned to utilize electrolyzers to efficiently produce substantial quantities of clean hydrogen with minimal disruption to ongoing operations. Global demand for hydrogen and its emerging applications are projected to increase tenfold or more by 2050, surpassing the current infrastructure for producing and delivering hydrogen.
One of the primary barriers to scalable and abundant hydrogen production is cost—up to 80% of the cost of hydrogen production through electrolysis is electricity. Because the Bloom Electrolyzer operates at high temperatures, it requires less energy than low-temperature PEM and alkaline electrolyzers to split water molecules. Producing hydrogen up to 45% more efficiently than PEM and alkaline electrolyzers when combined with external heat, the Bloom Electrolyzer supports a trajectory for hydrogen to become economically accessible.