Cell voltage monitoring reduces electrolyzer downtime

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Predictive maintenance requires monitoring

The demand for electrolysers is growing by leaps and bounds. They are needed all over the world to produce the hydrogen that is to replace fossil energy sources in numerous sectors of the economy. In view of the rising demand, manufacturing costs are expected to fall significantly in the medium term as industrial mass production progresses. Further cost savings can be achieved through efficient operation and predictive maintenance. Here, the monitoring of single cell voltages in electrolyzers makes an important contribution.

Originally developed for use on PEM fuel cells in vehicles, our cell voltage monitoring systems in the electrolyzer serve to extend the life of the stack and control the electrolysis process. And experience from the tough automotive environment makes implementation in the harsh industrial world easy. This is especially true for PEM electrolyzers. These are better suited for operation with highly fluctuating green electricity than the alkaline electrolysers that have been used in the chemical industry for decades, because they are not prone to gas contamination in partial-load operation and have significantly shorter cold-start times. However, due to the dynamic load profile of renewable energies, the operating conditions of the electrolyzer are constantly changing, which is associated with efficiency losses and service life limitations.

In order to achieve cost-effective and reliable hydrogen production, it is necessary to work on and optimize all the adjusting screws. Already in the development and testing phase, it is important to monitor the health of the cells in the electrolyzer stack as well as the individual components, especially the cell membranes, in order to detect unfavorable operating conditions. Later, during operation, the aim is to avoid downtime and achieve the longest possible service life. Unplanned downtime can be avoided through predictive maintenance.

CVM systems monitor the individual cell voltages in the electrolysis stacks and are thus an important component in process control for safe operation management. They look inside the cell stack and detect and visualize unusual operating conditions, such as when voltages are too high or too low. The operator then has the opportunity to shut down the respective stack before major damage occurs and to include the appropriate repairs and replacement of individual components in the next scheduled maintenance.

Hystar is one of the manufacturers that rely on our CVM systems. Read the corresponding press release here.

PEM electrolyzer from Hystar
Hystar uses cell voltage monitoring solutions from SMART TESTSOLUTIONS in its 1 MW PEM electrolysis system. Image: Hystar

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