Mechanical Engineering Professors Robert Braun and Neal Sullivan, in collaboration with world leading developers of solid oxide cell (SOC) technology, Nexceris LLC (prime), and Northwestern University (NU) have been awarded $600,000 ($3M total project) to demonstrate reversible solid oxide (RSOC) stack technology at the prototype system level and demonstrate performance that is compatible with hydrogen production cost of less than $2 per kg.  Nexceris will leverage their electrolyte-supported cell and stack technologies that offer enabling attributes for reversible operation for large-scale energy storage and low-cost hydrogen production. NU will contribute fundamental knowledge of RSOC fuel electrode materials and conduct pressurized testing on button cells before impacts of pressurization are assessed in RSOC stacks. Profs. Braun and Sullivan will lead a team to contribute their extensive RSOC system design, pressurized stack testing capabilities and techno-economic analysis to the effort.

Reversible SOC setup

Image adapted from Getty Images

“My group has been studying and advancing system concepts for high-temperature (>650°C) reversible solid oxide cell technology for over 10 years now,” Prof. Braun said. “We’ve worked in collaboration with Northwestern on several projects and are very excited to work now with Nexceris to develop stacks and system hardware towards demonstrating the systems we’ve designed and to move the technology one large step forward.”

The project is part of a U.S. Department of Energy program that seeks R&D on new materials, stack design, balance-of-plant and control system to both produce hydrogen for energy storage and reverse these systems to generate electricity. Such flexible systems are deemed critical for grid-integration and renewable energy firming through both hydrogen and power production.

The 3-year, $600,000 award to Mines will help support one graduate student, one post-doc, and lab and test rig development for pressurized, reversing operation of high-temperature Nexceris stacks, as well as enabling techno-economic evaluation and full system testing at Nexceris facilities.