Eco-gas such as hydrogen or methane produced from renewable electricity is widely regarded as central to effective climate change policy. But if the latest predictions are any indication, Germany will need to import most of it. This doesn’t bode well for a shift in attitude, as much of the natural gas consumed in the country is shipped in from abroad as well. It is doubtful that continuing the practice with eco-friendlier imports
Producing hydrogen in a completely natural way is something of a Rosetta Stone in science. Many have tried over the past decades, but rarely have they been able to announce a breakthrough in this field. Electrochaea, a startup based in a town west of Munich, could now have taken a big leap toward economic feasibility. This spring, the 20-staff company declared its intention to build power-to-gas bioreactors with a capacity of up to 50 megawatts.
Considering the highly ambitious GHG reduction targets that both the German government and the European Union have announced for 2050, it seems hardly enough to transform only the electric power market. Each part of the economy must see dramatic changes if the goal is a zero-carbon future. This also includes the steel industry, which produces around 6 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in Germany
Even if renewable hydrogen is not yet economically viable, there have been some demonstration projects to test its general suitability outside simulated environments. One of these research endeavors is the EU’s GrInHy, in which a consortium made up of eight companies based in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Finland and Spain have been working together to make an RSOC, that is, a reversible solid oxide electrolyzer
In the 1960s and 1970s, the UK put in enormous efforts to replace the ubiquitous town gas with natural gas supplies. The former, manufactured locally, contained more than 50 percent hydrogen. The proportion dropped to zero once the network was converted and about 40 million appliances were adapted for natural gas, delivered from the country’s North Sea fields. But today, something old could be new again, as one city is planning to switch its pipeline system to pure hydrogen and serve as a model for the rest of the country.
Launched in January 2017, INN-BALANCE, a project co-funded by the European Union’s FCH 2 JU public-private partnership, intends to seek out Innovative Cost Improvements for Balance of Plant Components of Automotive PEMFC Systems. The objective is to enhance the design of production-ready balance of plant and fuel cell components
Over the past years, Erlangen, in the German state of Bavaria, has become known as the world’s epicenter of LOHC research. It was here that Wolfgang Arlt, a professor at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, conducted his initial experiments on carbazole and other LOHCs, short for liquid organic hydrogen carriers, in 2011. The city is also home to companies such as Hydrogenious and Framatome
In April, Viessmann, a family-owned business based in Allendorf, Germany, started selling two new and improved generations of Vitovalor systems. PT2 is a whole-home solution for single-family and duplex houses. The space-saving unit has two components, a gas condensing boiler, integrated with a fuel cell, and a 220-liter tank, both with a matching height of 1.8 meters, or 5.9 feet. The boiler capacity ranges from 11.4 to 30.8 kilowatts. The unit has a minimum service life of 80,000 hours and requires maintenance only every five years.
A completely energy-independent home: a vision that some customers feel has so far not been easy to implement. What could change their opinion is the world’s first-ever off-grid multifamily property in Brütten, near Zurich in Switzerland. Since 2016, it has provided tenants with on-site gas and electricity, for both apartments and vehicles.
When discussing current advances in hydrogen and fuel cell technology, people often start by talking about transportation, along with success and failure in the automotive industry (see Cautious or clueless? and Fuel cells certain to gain traction after 2025). In the past several months, however, other applications have begun to move into focus.