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Technical and economic feasibility of centralized facilities for solar hydrogen production via photocatalysis and photoelectrochemistry

Pinaud, Blaise A. and Benck, Jesse D. and Seitz, Linsey C. and Forman, Arnold J. and Chen, Zhebo and Deutsch, Todd G. and James, Brian D. and Baum, Kevin N. and Baum, George N. and Ardo, Shane and Wang, Heli and Miller, Eric and Jaramillo, Thomas F. (2013) Technical and economic feasibility of centralized facilities for solar hydrogen production via photocatalysis and photoelectrochemistry. Energy and Environmental Science, 6 (7). pp. 1983-2002. ISSN 1754-5692. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20130806-102709429

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Abstract

Photoelectrochemical water splitting is a promising route for the renewable production of hydrogen fuel. This work presents the results of a technical and economic feasibility analysis conducted for four hypothetical, centralized, large-scale hydrogen production plants based on this technology. The four reactor types considered were a single bed particle suspension system, a dual bed particle suspension system, a fixed panel array, and a tracking concentrator array. The current performance of semiconductor absorbers and electrocatalysts were considered to compute reasonable solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiencies for each of the four systems. The U.S. Department of Energy H2A model was employed to calculate the levelized cost of hydrogen output at the plant gate at 300 psi for a 10 tonne per day production scale. All capital expenditures and operating costs for the reactors and auxiliaries (compressors, control systems, etc.) were considered. The final cost varied from $1.60–$10.40 per kg H2 with the particle bed systems having lower costs than the panel-based systems. However, safety concerns due to the cogeneration of O_2 and H_2 in a single bed system and long molecular transport lengths in the dual bed system lead to greater uncertainty in their operation. A sensitivity analysis revealed that improvement in the solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of the panel-based systems could substantially drive down their costs. A key finding is that the production costs are consistent with the Department of Energy's targeted threshold cost of $2.00–$4.00 per kg H_2 for dispensed hydrogen, demonstrating that photoelectrochemical water splitting could be a viable route for hydrogen production in the future if material performance targets can be met.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c3ee40831kDOIArticle
http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2013/EE/c3ee40831kPublisherArticle
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Ardo, Shane0000-0001-7162-6826
Jaramillo, Thomas F.0000-0001-9900-0622
Additional Information:© 2013 Royal Society of Chemistry. Received 10th March 2013; accepted 20th May 2013. First published online 12 Jun 2013. The authors would like to thank the U.S. Department of Energy’s PEC Working Group, organized by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office, for its instrumental role in initiating and sustaining the technoeconomic analysis of the photoelectrochemical hydrogen production pathway. We also thank Steven Y. Reece, Joep J. H. Pijpers, Niels H. Damrauer, and Thomas D. Jarvi for their constructive feedback on this paper. BAP received funding from NSF grant CHE-0802907 for CCI Solar Fuels, a United Technologies Research Center fellowship in Sustainable Energy, and a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada graduate award. JDB received support from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and a Stanford Graduate Fellowship. LCS also received funding from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. AJF and TFJ received support from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy through Subcontract no. NFT-9-88567-01 and AGB-2-11473-01 under Prime Contract no. DE-AC36-08-GO28308. JDB, LCS, and ZC were supported by the Center on Nanostructuring for Efficient Energy Conversion (CNEEC) at Stanford University, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under Award no. DE-SC0001060. TGD was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Cell Technologies Office under Contract no. DE-AC36-08-G028303 with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. SA received support through a DOE-EERE Postdoctoral Research Award under the EERE Fuel Cell Technologies Program.
Group:CCI Solar Fuels
Funders:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSFCHE-0802907
United Technologies Research CenterUNSPECIFIED
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)UNSPECIFIED
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Stanford UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Department of Energy (DOE)NFT-9-88567-01
Department of Energy (DOE)AGB-2-11473-01
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-AC36-08-GO28308
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-SC0001060
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-AC36-08-G028303
Issue or Number:7
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130806-102709429
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20130806-102709429
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:39779
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:06 Aug 2013 21:42
Last Modified:09 Oct 2019 04:28

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