Sustainability analysis and simulation of a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) electrolyser for green hydrogen production


  • Jordi Béjar Rabascall
  • Gaurav Mirlekar



Sustainability analysis, Water electrolysis, Hydrogen production, Process simulation


In recent years, green hydrogen has emerged as an important energy carrier for future sustainable development. Due to the possibility of not emitting CO2 during its generation and use, hydrogen is considered a perfect substitute for current fossil fuels. However, a major drawback of hydrogen production by water electrolysis, supplied by renewable electricity, is its limited economic competitiveness compared to conventional energy sources. Therefore, this work focuses on analyzing the sustainability of a green hydrogen production plant, not only considering its environmental parameters, as well as its economic, energy and efficiency parameters. The polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) is selected as the most promising method of green hydrogen production in the medium and long term. Subsequently, a small-scale production plant is simulated using chemical process simulation software to obtain key data for computing a set of sustainability indicators. The selected indicators are based on the Gauging Reaction Effectiveness for the Environmental Sustainability of Chemistries with a Multi-Objective Process Evaluator (GREENSCOPE) methodology and are used to compare the sustainability of the simulated PEM plant with alkaline water electrolysis (AWE) plant. Finally, the process is scaled-up to analyze the feasibility of the simulated PEM system and validated against data to determine the operation of the electrolyser at a large production scale.