Germany is betting heavily on hydrogen (H2) in its future energy strategy. But the cost of electrolysers still runs high and industry must be convinced of the business case for investing. Equally, innovative SMEs should be supported in their efforts to develop new H2 systems technology and routes to market. The Fraunhofer Institute’s new (HLL), situated in the Leuna Chemical Park in Germany’s “Chemical Triangle”, will directly address these needs.
Construction of HLL has now completed at a total cost of EUR 10 million (provided by the state of Saxony-Anhalt and the EU). The cutting edge facility will have four stands for testing a range of electrolysers (up to 5 MW) and will be able to pilot processes for sector coupling, analyse system components and materials and model real operating scenarios for H2 plants.
With its expertise in electrochemical analysis, the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy will own and operate the plant, which will be equipped for testing most industrial-scale electrolysers in continuous operation including Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM), Alkaline Water Electrolysis (AEL), Anion Exchange Membrane (AEM) and Solid Oxide Electrolysis (SOEC).
Dynamic load profiles can be simulated to mimic electricity feed-in from photovoltaic and wind plants; the data collected will inform future certification. Additional test stands for electrolyser stacks up to 50 kW will enable the investigation of newly-developed components and operation under “stress” conditions.
In terms of sector coupling, a partnership with Fraunhofer Centre for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes will enable the sustainable synthesis of basic chemicals and fuels from green H2. For example, a pilot for the production of methanol from CO2 and H2 is planned with electrolyser producer Sunfire.
HLL’s services will include the supply of media for electrolysis (deionised H2O, steam, N2, H2, CO2, compressed air) and the injection of H2 into pipelines, as well as material flow analytics, fault diagnostics and design modelling to optimise systems and storage.