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Solid oxide electrolysis cell technology to unlock the full potential of renewable power

Published by
Energy Global,


An article in Science magazine suggests that solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) technology can unlock the full potential of renewable power and provide climate-friendly fuels. The article argues that the technology will be ready for wider adoption in the near future.

Solid oxide electrolysis cell technology to unlock the full potential of renewable power

Electrolysis technologies play a central part in power-to-X solutions that produce climate-friendly fuels, such as hydrogen and ammonia. To meet future needs for decarbonisation globally, electrolysis technologies must be deployed at a massive scale.

“In the article in Science, we claim that the SOEC technology holds the best promise for a wider adoption thanks to unrivalled energy conversion efficiencies. The high operating temperature of SOECs gives rise to the two main advantages over competing alkaline and polymer-electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysers: more favourable thermodynamics and faster kinetics. It is also essential that the SOEC technology is based on scalable production methods and abundant raw materials such as nickel, zirconia, and steel,” said Rainer Küngas, Principal Scientist at Topsoe and contributing author of the article.

The SOEC technology can be thermally integrated with a range of chemical synthesis processes, enabling the efficient production of future fuels such as methanol and ammonia. Green ammonia, for example, can be produced from air, water, and renewable electricity and becomes a highly attractive fuel for decarbonising the maritime sector.

The article in Science describes key developments in the SOEC technology within the past 15 years and argues that it is ready for an industrial scale-up. Researchers from Haldor Topsoe, Technical University of Denmark, Aalborg University and Energinet have contributed to the article.

The technology has moved from the research and development phase into demonstration and scale-up, and today it is on the verge of commercialisation. Topsoe is conducting commercialisation activities and has just shipped new unsubsidised SOEC plants that will soon start converting CO2 into useful chemicals in Ohio, US.

Topsoe is continuing research and development activities to achieve further performance enhancements and cost reductions on cell, stack, and system level. 

When renewable electricity is used in electrolysis, the production of fuels and chemicals can be decoupled from fossil resources and CO2 emissions, paving the way for an energy system based entirely on renewable energy and resources.

Read the article online at: https://www.energyglobal.com/other-renewables/09102020/solid-oxide-electrolysis-cell-technology-to-unlock-the-full-potential-of-renewable-power/

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