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08 Mar 2024

Shell has shown interest in Bloom Energy’s SOEC technology

Shell has shown interest in Bloom Energy’s SOEC technology

Shell has recently expressed interest in the potential Bloom Energy’s technology could have for the production of hydrogen. More specifically, Shell is particularly interested in the company’s solid oxide electrolyser (SOEC) for the benefits it could provide to Shell’s hydrogen production facilities.

This amount of interest has been shown, due to the importance hydrogen holds within multiple tasks. The element is crucial in this industry during refining processes, it is also used to enhance the quality of petroleum products and it is a massive help when it comes to processing different types of crude oils. At the moment, most of the hydrogen that is used within acts such as refining, is produced through unabated fossil fuel processes.

An SOEC is a high-temperature electrolysis method, which is used for hydrogen production. It operates through the use of a solid ceramic material, which is the electrolyte, then electricity splits water under temperatures at a maximum of 800 degrees Celsius. The benefits of the electrolyser using this temperature, means that the amount of electrical energy required can be significantly reduced. This results in a more efficient process compared to processes such as low-temperature electrolysis.

For a while now, Shell has been searching for methods to decarbonise their existing refineries and they have spent a long time looking into electrolyser potential. Bloom Energy is not the first company they have shown interest in, back in December of 2023, Shell Deutschland created a 100MW capacity reservation with ITM Power for their PEM electrolyser stacks. This technology was put to use for hydrogen production in Rhineland.

On the other hand, in May of 2023, Bloom Energy had a 4MW SOEC in operation at a NASA research centre, based in California, US. This partnership was created from Bloom Energy’s offer of 20-25% more hydrogen per megawatt than is commercially demonstrated with low-temperature electrolysers.

So far, with the interest concerning Shell and Bloom Energy, the oil and gas major has said they will ‘work with Bloom Energy to develop “replicable, large-scale” SOEC systems to produce hydrogen for “potential use at Shell assets.”’

Founder, Chairman and CEO of Bloom Energy, KR Sridhar, said, ‘the systems could represent a “potentially transformative moment for opportunities to decarbonise several hard-to-abate sectors.”’

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