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Fraunhofer Develops New Offshore Technologies for the Generation, Storage and use of Green Hydrogen

By September 28, 2021 6   min read  (1042 words)

September 28, 2021 |

Fuel Cells Works, Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council Publishes Road Map on Repurposing of Oil and Gas Infrastructure for Hydrogen
  • The Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU plays a leading role in researching efficient hydrogen technologies. 

Several major projects have recently started in which the institute is leading, coordinating or acting as a partner. Now, with ›H2Wind‹, another major research project is being added – and that goes straight to the source: by 2025, the researchers are developing electrolysers and hydrogen storage systems that can be operated in the sea. Because it is precisely there that wind turbines generate the electricity required to generate and process green hydrogen. The project is funded by the federal government with 3.5 million euros.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU plays a leading role in researching efficient hydrogen technologies. Most recently, with the ›Fraunhofer Reference Factory for Electrolyser Mass Production‹, the ›National Action Plan for Fuel Cell Production of the Fraunhofer Society‹, the ›HIC – Hydrogen and Mobility Innovation Center‹ and the ›Fraunhofer Hydrogen Lab Görlitz‹, several major projects have started the institute is leading, coordinating or acting as a partner. The projects are all aimed at building a sustainably successful hydrogen economy in Germany in order to achieve the climate protection goals and make jobs future-proof. Now, with ›H2Wind‹, another major research project is being added – and that goes straight to the source: The researchers at Fraunhofer IWU will develop electrolysers and hydrogen storage systems that can be operated in the sea by 2025. Because it is precisely there that wind turbines generate the electricity required to generate and process green hydrogen. There is no need for expensive network connections to the mainland. The project is funded by the federal government with 3.5 million euros.

»The production of hydrogen with green electricity at sea has several advantages: Wind is almost always available. This enables constant electricity production. In addition, there are no restrictions such as distance regulations on land. On the other hand, electrolysis takes place on the open sea under robust conditions. The entire system as well as the individual components must be designed for this so that they function reliably for many years and with them a maximum yield of wind energy is achieved, ”says Mark Richter, head of the› Future Factory ‹department at Fraunhofer IWU, outlining the challenges for the H2Wind project.

—Resilient research stack for offshore electrolysis—

The scientists are therefore developing a research stack in which new types of bipolar plates are being tested for use in offshore electrolysis. Stacks are essential components of electrolysers. They consist of numerous cells in which, in turn, bipolar plates are important components. »The design of the bipolar plates largely determines the efficiency, functionality and service life of the cell and thus of the entire stack. We are looking for suitable materials and their targeted application for use in the offshore sector. It is also about production processes for future series production of these panels, which allow a high degree of flexibility with regard to the technological properties of the panels, the materials used and coating strategies «,

The researchers at Fraunhofer IWU are building on the results they have already achieved in developing technology for fuel cell and electrolyser components. Among other things, they presented economical production processes for bipolar plates with various forming processes: Depending on the area of ​​application and performance requirements, hydroforming, embossing or roller embossing are used.

—Tube storage: hydrogen is more aggressive than natural gas—

In addition to efficient and reliable processes for generating hydrogen, such storage is also important. To this end, extensive research and development work on tubular storage systems for offshore use is being carried out in the H2Wind project. While these containers have long since proven themselves in natural gas storage, there are still a few hurdles to overcome for hydrogen: “So far, it is largely unclear how hydrogen affects the material and the welded joints of the pipes. The memories are also exposed to changing loads. They have to withstand frequent filling and emptying cycles with simultaneously occurring high pressures of sometimes several 100 bar.

For this purpose, the researchers at the Fraunhofer Hydrogen Lab in Görlitz are building a corresponding tube storage system in order to test various processes and scenarios for optimal operation. New types of measurement systems are also developed and tested on this demonstrator, which allow reliable status diagnosis of the storage units.

—With digital twins to optimal usage scenarios—

Digital tools are used to assess the functionality and profitability of the new hydrogen technologies and systems. »We map the individual components of the H2Wind project using information technology and create a model library of digital twins that communicate with each other. This means that the simulation models developed in the project can be managed centrally, ”explains Marc Münnich, research associate at Fraunhofer IWU. On this basis, various industrial uses of green offshore hydrogen, i.e. offshore hydrogen obtained from renewable energies, are analyzed, example scenarios are developed, compared with one another and evaluated. The modeling takes place at the component, component and system level,

—H2Wind as part of the three leading hydrogen projects of the federal government—

H2Wind receives funding of 3.5 million euros and is a sub-project of H2Mare, one of the federal government’s three lead hydrogen projects. Around 35 partners are integrated into the lead project, which is funded with more than 100 million euros and will run until March 31, 2025.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is supporting Germany’s entry into the hydrogen economy with its largest research initiative to date on the subject of the energy transition. The three hydrogen lead projects are the result of an ideas competition and form a central contribution of the BMBF to the implementation of the national hydrogen strategy. Over a period of four years, they should remove existing hurdles that make Germany’s entry into a hydrogen economy difficult. This involves the series production of large-scale water electrolysers (H2Giga), the generation of hydrogen and secondary products on the high seas (H2Mare) and technologies for the transport of hydrogen (TransHyDE). Over 30 partners from science and industry work together in the hydrogen lead projects. The projects started in spring on the basis of non-binding funding prospects. The total funding will amount to over 740 million euros.

Source: Fraunhofer

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