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The Hy2Chem scaling-platform will enable the sustainable synthesis of basic chemicals and fuels on an industrial scale.

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The chemical industry, which is concentrated in Saxony-Anhalt, central Germany, requires around 100,000 cubic metres of hydrogen (H2) per hour. Up until now, that hydrogen has been extracted from natural gas, which makes the region not only one of the largest consumers of H2 in Germany, but also one of the largest emitters of CO2.

To tackle this problem, the Fraunhofer Centre for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes (CBP) in Leuna and the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructures of Materials and Systems (IMWS) in Halle are jointly developing an Electrolysis Test and Trial Platform (ELP), to mass-produce hydrogen from renewable energy, and a scaling platform called Hy2Chem to synthesize it for the production of basic chemicals and fuels – both at the Leuna chemical park.

"We are creating the first electrolysis test stand in Germany that is fully integrated into a material flow network of the chemical industry. We can use it, for example, to systematically test electrolysers and gain valuable experience in feeding hydrogen into the pipeline system of our cooperation partner Linde - and this up to an initial five Megawatt," says Sylvia Schattauer, deputy institute director at IMWS, in a Fraunhofer press release.

The activities of the ELP are directly linked to the Hy2Chem scaling platform, which will enable the use of H2 for the sustainable synthesis of basic chemicals and fuels on an industrial scale. The state of Saxony-Anhalt, which has funded construction of the two pilot plants with help from industrial partners, has high hopes for the Leuna site.

"Green hydrogen is a central piece of the puzzle of the Energy Transition. Thanks to its know-how and infrastructure, the Leuna site has the best prerequisites for becoming the nucleus of a German hydrogen economy. To achieve this, it must now be possible to successfully produce hydrogen on an industrial scale using renewable energies," says Armin Willingmann, state Minister for Economics, Science and Digitalization, in the press release.

The ELP project will kick off mid-2020, with the plant due to commence operations in 2021. A total of EUR 10 million will be invested in the platforms.