Aluminium redox cycle in comparison to pressurized hydrogen for the energy supply of multi-family houses
Power-to-X technologies that convert renewable electricity to chemically stored energy in “X” may provide a gaseous, liquid or solid fuel that can be used in winter to provide both, heat and electricity, and thus replace fossil fuels that are currently used in many countries with cold winters. This contribution compares two options for power-to-X technologies for providing heat and electricity supply of buildings with high solar photovoltaic coverage, at times of low solar availability. The option “compressed hydrogen” is based on water electrolysis that produces hydrogen on-site. This hydrogen is subsequently compressed and stored at high pressure (350 bar) for use in winter by a fuel cell. The option “aluminium redox-cycle” includes an inert electrode high temperature electrolysis process that is carried out at industrial scale. Produced aluminium is subsequently transported to the site of use and converted to hydrogen and heat – and finally to electricity and heat – by aluminium-water reaction in combination with a fuel cell. Results of cost and LCA analysis show that the overall energetic efficiency of the compressed hydrogen process is slightly higher than for the aluminium redox cycle. However, the aluminium redox-cycles needs far less on-site storage volume and is likely to become available at lower investment cost for the end user. Total annual cost of ownership and global warming potential of the two options are quite similar.