Hydrogen, as a sustainable carbon-free energy source, has been growing in interest and in the news. Electrolysis is the process of using direct current electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen components. The U.S. Department of Energy in its Hydrogen Fuel Basics page, describes the electrolysis process.
Electrolytic processes take place in an electrolyzer, which functions much like a fuel cell in reverse—instead of using the energy of a hydrogen molecule, like a fuel cell does, an electrolyzer creates hydrogen from water molecules.
In an Energy Engineering article, Digital twin technology transforms hydrogen production, Emerson’s Loic Charbonneau:
…explains how digital twin technology is helping to scale up industrial PEM electrolysis hydrogen production.
Loic opens noting that hydrogen, as part of Europe’s clean energy transition:
…is an ideal clean energy source offering a high caloric value and energy density, and multiple transport and storage methods, but most importantly it produces virtually no greenhouse emissions when combusted with oxygen.
He describes the Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolysis method as:
…evolving to overcome the issues inherent to alkaline electrolysers namely partial load capabilities, low current density, and low pressure operation.
The strength of this technology versus other electrolysis methods by:
…offering fast start-up, no corrosion and simpler maintenance.
So how does digital twin technology fit in to this PEM electrolysis process? Loic first defines digital twin technology as:
…a software-based virtual replica of the complete physical assets of a production facility, including its process equipment, instrumentation and controls, as well as the production processes.
Some of the benefits digital twin technology delivers to this and a wide variety of other production processes include analyzing “what if” design scenarios, validate optimized control strategies, enable cost-effective regulatory compliance, validate staff operating procedures, optimize preventive maintenance practices, and upskill operations staff.
Read the article for more on how each of these benefits can be achieved, especially specific to PEM electrolysis production process.
Digital twin technology is but one of the many technologies Emerson brings to manufacturers and producers for their sustainability initiatives. For other examples visit the sustainability section of the Emerson annual report.