Fraunhofer Hydrogen Labs

Test area of the Hydrogen Lab Leuna, © Fraunhofer IMWS / Moritz Kühnel
Test area of the Hydrogen Lab Leuna, © Fraunhofer IMWS / Moritz Kühnel

Test centres for industrial hydrogen technology start operation

The industry needs reliable technologies for the broad application of green hydrogen. In the Hydrogen Labs, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is pooling its expertise in the generation and use of green H2 and creating a unique research infrastructure for practical performance and load tests on an industrial scale in order to decisively advance the development of H2 technologies suitable for mass production and thus the market ramp-up.

The national hydrogen strategy has placed green hydrogen as a key component in the focus of the energy turnaround. The annual production capacity of 14 TWh of green hydrogen targeted by 2030 poses enormous challenges for existing technologies, which can only be overcome by a significant research and development push. In addition to the scaling of electrolysers into new performance classes, the development of more efficient and cost-effective components and the establishment of series production, operational reliability and economic efficiency in real operation play a decisive role in the targeted market ramp-up.

Electrolysers are preferably operated at static load to maximise efficiency and economic efficiency with predictable degradation. In order to produce green hydrogen, however, electrolysers must be powered exclusively by electricity from renewable sources, the availability of which is subject to strong fluctuations. Extensive tests under such dynamic conditions are indispensable for an accurate prediction of service life and economic efficiency in long-term operation under fluctuating loads.

HOC

However, test facilities with the necessary infrastructure are rare, especially for the electrolysers in the MW range, which are becoming increasingly important. In addition to a sufficient supply of ideally green electricity and, depending on the type of electrolyser, water or steam, the sensible use of the hydrogen produced on a considerable scale (a 1 MW electrolyser produces over 200 Nm³ H2 per hour) plays an important role, both for reasons of safety and from an economic perspective.

Many companies – especially small and medium-sized companies that drive new technologies with high innovation potential – cannot afford the high investment costs for their own test infrastructure. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has set itself the task of providing an open-technology test platform for plants for H2 production and related processes such as storage, compression, purification, transport, utilisation, etc., including scientific support, and is thus making an important contribution to the rapid implementation of the hydrogen strategy in practice.

Leuna – green hydrogen for the chemical industry

In the Central German Chemical Triangle, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has now given the go-ahead for a new generation of test infrastructure that can precisely serve this demand with the commissioning of the Hydrogen Lab Leuna (HLL), which is funded by the state of Saxony-Anhalt and the EU. Embedded in the materials network of the Leuna Chemical Park, the HLL offers four test stands for electrolysers with a connected load of up to 5 MW, which are supplied with deionised water, steam, compressed air, nitrogen, hydrogen and CO2. The green hydrogen produced is analysed and processed on site and can be fed directly into the 157 km long H2 pipeline, distributed to the industrial sites in the region and used there in chemical processes.

… Read more in the latest H2-International e-Journal, Aug 2021

Authors: Dr. Moritz Kühnel, Dr. Sylvia Schattauer – Fraunhofer-Institut für Mikrostruktur von Werkstoffen und Systemen, Leuna & Halle; Nora Denecke – Fraunhofer-Institut für Windenergiesysteme, Bremerhaven; Dr. Sebastian Schmidt – Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkzeugmaschinen und Umformtechnik, Zittau

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