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Energies 2017, 10(7), 860; https://doi.org/10.3390/en10070860

Site-Dependent Environmental Impacts of Industrial Hydrogen Production by Alkaline Water Electrolysis

Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute of Energy and Climate Research–Systems Analysis and Technology Evaluation (IEK-STE), D-52425 Jülich, Germany
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Received: 30 May 2017 / Revised: 20 June 2017 / Accepted: 24 June 2017 / Published: 28 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Impact Assessment of Energy Technolgies)
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Abstract

Industrial hydrogen production via alkaline water electrolysis (AEL) is a mature hydrogen production method. One argument in favor of AEL when supplied with renewable energy is its environmental superiority against conventional fossil-based hydrogen production. However, today electricity from the national grid is widely utilized for industrial applications of AEL. Also, the ban on asbestos membranes led to a change in performance patterns, making a detailed assessment necessary. This study presents a comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) using the GaBi software (version 6.115, thinkstep, Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany), revealing inventory data and environmental impacts for industrial hydrogen production by latest AELs (6 MW, Zirfon membranes) in three different countries (Austria, Germany and Spain) with corresponding grid mixes. The results confirm the dependence of most environmental effects from the operation phase and specifically the site-dependent electricity mix. Construction of system components and the replacement of cell stacks make a minor contribution. At present, considering the three countries, AEL can be operated in the most environmentally friendly fashion in Austria. Concerning the construction of AEL plants the materials nickel and polytetrafluoroethylene in particular, used for cell manufacturing, revealed significant contributions to the environmental burden. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydrogen production; alkaline water electrolysis; life cycle assessment; Austria; Spain; Germany hydrogen production; alkaline water electrolysis; life cycle assessment; Austria; Spain; Germany
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Koj, J.C.; Wulf, C.; Schreiber, A.; Zapp, P. Site-Dependent Environmental Impacts of Industrial Hydrogen Production by Alkaline Water Electrolysis. Energies 2017, 10, 860.

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