Opens in a new window

Five Fraunhofer institutes are building a “reference factory” alongside a “digital twin” to develop and test innovative electrolysis solutions for hydrogen production.

© Pixabay

The cost of producing green hydrogen (H2) must come down so that H2 technologies can compete with market energy prices. This is the collective goal of the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology (IWU) together with four other Fraunhofer institutes who are building a “reference factory” alongside a “digital twin” to develop and test innovative electrolysis solutions over the next four years. They aim to reduce the cost of electrolysers by over 25 percent.

“We are building a digital library of future-proof electrolyser manufacturing processes, with which the investment costs and even the return on investment can be determined in advance," says Dr Ulrike Beyer, project coordinator at the IWU in a press release. "The resulting technology toolbox will give the electrolyser industry a real boost. We expect an enormous innovation impact."

Different aspects of H2 technology will be looked at by the corresponding Fraunhofer experts. The IWU will specialise in rolling processes for bipolar plates, specifically for the anodes and cathodes, at their facility in Chemnitz and automated processes for the stacking of bipolar plates; while the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology (IPT) in Aachen will look after the production technology of Catalyst Coated Membrane (CCM), the Porous Transport Layer (PTL) and the bipolar plates.

Over in Stuttgart, the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing, Engineering and Automation (IPA) will map the individual production modules of the reference factory to their virtual twins. Meanwhile, back in Chemnitz, the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems (ENAS) will be working on adapting inkjet printing processes for CCM manufacturing, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems (IMWS) in Halle will zero-in on the efficiencies and potential defects of electrolyser components and systems.

The entire project is supported with EUR 22 million through the flagship project "H2Giga”, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research to support Germany's entry into the H2 economy.