Water Electrolyzer Hydrogen Generator
Using electrical power to split water into hydrogen and oxygen is well-established technology and several companies sell electrolyzer products. However, electrolyzer solutions present the hydrogen fueling station operator with many challenges.
The electrolyzer process requires a large amount of electricity that is often not available in both established urban centers and rural locations.
The initial cost of the electrolyzer can be cost prohibitive if a large amount of hydrogen is required.
The operating cost of electrolyzers is driven by the cost of electricity, which is high compared with the cost of methanol.
Although water electrolysis is often proposed as a very clean (non-polluting) method to make hydrogen, most electrical power is produced from fossil fuels including coal-fired plants, while renewable sources of electrical power only represent a small fraction of available power. Electrical power losses over transmission lines compound the challenge.
L-Series Steam Reforming Hydrogen Generators
e1 uses its well-established steam reforming technology to produce hydrogen from a low cost and readily available feedstock of methanol and water, without requiring large amounts of electrical power. e1 hydrogen generators present a low CapEx and OpEx on-site hydrogen generator solution for the fueling station operator.
Methanol + Water
Electricity + Water
Cost of Feedstock to make 1.0 kg H2
$1.57 at $250 / MT Methanol
$4.95 at $0.09/kWhr
Cost of Feedstock to make 1.0 kg H2
$3.15 at $500 / MT Methanol
$18.15 at $0.33/kWhr
Substantial to deliver high-purity water
CapEx 170 kg H2 / day
$100,000 to $150,000
$500,000 to $750,000
Capex 300 kg H2 / day
$250,000 to $300,000
$950,000 to $1,450,000
Producing 1.0 kg H2 Requires
7.6 kg Methanol
55 kW hrs. Electricity
CO2 Emissions per 1 kg H2 Produced
55 kg (Grid Power)
Net Zero CO2 Emissions
Yes, if renewable methanol is used
Yes, if renewable electricity is used
Conclusion of Analysis
25% lower CapEx of elecrolyzer 50% lower OpEx of electrolyzer 20% lower co2 - less than 20% of electrolyzer
4% Lower power - less than 4% of electrolyzer
Frequently Asked Questions
How do electrolyzers produce hydrogen?
Electrolyzers require large amounts of electrical power to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The process typically takes 55 kW-hours of electricity per kg of hydrogen produced. Electrolyzers are very expensive to purchase and operate relative to e1’s methanol steam reforming hydrogen generators.
How do e1 hydrogen generators produce hydrogen?
e1 hydrogen generators use steam reforming technology to produce hydrogen from methanol and water feedstock. The process requires 12.3 kg of feedstock and <0.5 kW-hours of electricity per kg of hydrogen produced. Steam reformers are much less expensive to purchase and operate relative to electrolyzer technology.
Compare the cost of methanol steam reformer vs. electrolyzers?
The capital cost of the methanol steam reformer is 40% of an electrolyzer of similar capacity. To determine the operating cost benefits, you will need to compare the cost of electricity and the cost of methanol for a specific location. In many cases, the operating cost of the methanol reformer is about half of the operating cost of the electrolyzer.
Is hydrogen from electrolyzers “clean energy” vs e1 hydrogen generators?
It depends on the source of the electricity. Water electrolysis is often proposed as a very clean (non-polluting) method to make hydrogen at small scale and medium scale. However, as of 2017 most of the power (> 60%) in the USA comes from fossil fuels including natural gas, coal, and petroleum-fired power plants, while renewable electrical power generation (hydro, solar, and wind) produces less than 15% of total power.
Methanol is produced from natural gas. An e1 hydrogen generator steam reforming methanol and water produces less than 20% of the CO2 compared to an electrolyzer utilizing power produced from coal per kg of hydrogen. Although not yet widely available, renewable methanol can be reformed to produce “clean hydrogen”.