ZSW: Green hydrogen: Southwest is Pushing Industrialization of Electrolysis

By May 12, 2020 4   min read  (721 words)

May 12, 2020 |

ZSW Electrolyser
  • Joint project started: “Electrolysis made in Baden-Württemberg”

Green hydrogen is an important building block for the energy transition. The climate-friendly energy source is generated from green electricity using water electrolysis. 

Many large economies are currently planning to enter the industrialization of hydrogen technology. Baden-Württemberg also wants to start producing electrolyzers and the components required for them. A project led by the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) started with several partners in April 2020. It is designed to harness the potential of the economy in the southwest for this new technology branch. The joint project is funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Water electrolysis is becoming increasingly clear as a key technology for the energy transition. “It converts renewable electricity into green hydrogen, which is then available to transport and other sectors as a climate-neutral energy source or raw material,” explains Marc-Simon Löffler, head of the Department of Renewable Energy Sources and Processes at the ZSW. “In particular parts of industry – steel production, chemistry, refineries – only green hydrogen opens the way to climate neutrality,” said Löffler.

Many countries, especially Japan, China and the USA, are entering this future market. Experts estimate that the demand for electrolyzers will increase rapidly in the near future. For Baden-Württemberg, manufacturing offers a particularly promising field of activity: The state has a strong and export-oriented machine and plant construction as well as an efficient component supply industry. Anyone who quickly gets involved in the core element of power-to-x technology from these companies can be one of the first to successfully assert themselves in international competition. Because the technological lead associated with a pioneering role can help to secure long-term market shares.

The Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labor and Housing Baden-Württemberg is funding the research project “Electrolysis made in Baden-Württemberg” with around five million euros so that the potential in the southwest for domestic industry can be quickly developed. It is intended to advance the industrialization of electrolysis technology. Partners are the German Institutes for Textile and Fiber Research (DITF), the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Hahn-Schickard Society for Applied Research (HS, Stuttgart). “The overarching goal of BW electrolysis is to strengthen the future and competitiveness of Baden-Württemberg companies in this area,” says Marc-Simon Löffler. “Companies in the country should be given the opportunity develop a strong market position with the support of science in the hydrogen sector. Hydrogen is to be produced efficiently, cost-effectively and sustainably all over the world using electrolysis components from the southwest. This means that green hydrogen can contribute to added value in Baden-Württemberg in the future. ”

Medium-sized companies in particular should participate in the project. The centerpiece is the development of an electrolyser “made in Baden-Württemberg”: The alkaline pressure electrolyzer with an electrical output of around one megawatt is to be designed in a modular manner, so that in the future the technology will easily build on this smallest unit in larger, double-digit megawatts – Performance classes can be scaled. A CE-certified demonstrator is planned, built and used in Stuttgart under real operating conditions. Companies from Baden-Württemberg are to introduce process and electrical engineering components and manufacturing technologies that are suitable for series production into the demonstrator and help to develop an improved, standardized system technology with a high added value share. Optimized system automation should ensure trouble-free and low-maintenance operation. The companies involved can integrate or transfer these new developments into their respective products. The project thus supports direct technology transfer to the economy.

At the same time, the participating research institutions are working with interested companies on innovative materials and methods, in particular for the core component of the electrolysis block, in order to make the technology even more efficient, robust and cost-effective in the future. In addition to the optimization of an existing, patented electrolysis block design by the ZSW, this includes the development of efficient and robust ion exchange membranes, the development of sensors that can be integrated into the electrolytic cell block and thus monitor the relevant operational information directly at the point of gas generation, as well as the further development of a cost-effective one Plasma spraying process for coating electrodes.



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