Located at partner AVL’s site in Germany, the demonstrator is Ceres’ first real-world foray into hydrogen production. The device is said to now be in the final stages of commissioning, on track to reach factory acceptance testing in the coming weeks. Once signed off, the demonstrator is due to be shipped to Shell’s R&D Centre in Bangalore, India.
Based on Ceres’ longstanding fuel cell technology, the solid oxide electrolyser cell (SOEC) essentially works like a fuel cell in reverse, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity. The company has spent the past several years evolving its core SteelCell product to ensure that it can operate in both directions, an advance that saw Ceres win this year’s MacRobert Award, bestowed by the RAEng for outstanding engineering innovation.
According to Ceres, its SOEC can deliver green hydrogen at <40kWh/kg, which is said to be up to 25 per cent more efficient than existing technologies. Speaking to The Engineer as part of this month’s (November 2023) cover feature on green hydrogen, Ceres CTO Dr Caroline Hargrove explained how the technology could help drive green steel, green ammonia production and synthetic fuels.
“Ultimately, the USP of our technology is that it’s so much more efficient if you have waste heat or heat in the system, and a lot of big industrialised systems do,” Dr Hargrove said. “When you do, you start with at least 20 per cent more efficiency than PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) and alkaline (electrolysis). And that’s the market that we want to go after.
“Our CapEx is a bit higher, but because the efficiency is so much better, the levelised cost of hydrogen is also so much better with this technology. Therefore industries that are 24/7-on really benefit from that, and these are the type of industries that hydrogen is core to decarbonise.”
According to Dr Hargrove, Ceres is already working on plans to scale the technology up to the 100MW-level, which is the scale required to produce hydrogen at the industrial levels a green hydrogen economy will demand.
“There’s interest in the market and they want to see proof points,” she said. “What we’re working on in the background is what would a 100MW plant look like, because that’s the kind of amount that you need in an industrial context.”