The path of green hydrogen

energy concepts | innovation | Sustainability and climate protection | trends of technology | Hydrogen is the element that occurs most frequently in our universe. It is found all around us and can be used as a climate-neutral energy carrier. Thus, the light H2 molecule could become the key to a successful energy transition. However, this will only succeed if the so-called 'green' hydrogen is put to use.

The trend away from fossil fuels and towards renewable forms of energy production and storage continues. The world population is growing steadily and requires more and more energy – especially in the course of the ongoing urbanization and digitalization of our lives.

The environmental awareness of consumers and companies has also changed: Today, more people are concerned with the effects of climate change and are increasingly expressing the desire for climate-neutral alternatives for energy supply. In this context, ‘green hydrogen’ is often referred to. It is said to be environmentally friendly and a key to a successful energy transition: But what makes hydrogen ‘green’?

hydrogen, technology, energy ,climate, thyssenkrupp

Hydrogen is praised by many as the energy carrier of the future.

Green hydrogen as energy storage

 The prerequisite for green hydrogen is its’ production, aka the water electrolysis,  by using electricity from sustainable sources. To ensure a constant and reliable supply of electricity from green energy sources, the surplus electricity from wind power plants & solar plants must be storable for later use.

The electricity from green sources is used for water electrolysis to split water molecules and produce hydrogen. This hydrogen can in turn be used as energy storage, stored in tanks or even underground caves and transported via pipelines, tankers or trucks. Thanks to hydrogen technology, green energy plants can be used independently of environmental conditions and thus become more reliable. Hydrogen technology offers renewable energy plants the possibility to store surplus energy produced under favourable weather conditions. Renewable energies and green hydrogen technology are therefore mutually beneficial.

Modern hydrogen technology can thus make a significant contribution to a successful energy transition. But how exactly does water electrolysis work and how can the energy be stored in the form of hydrogen so that it can later be released and fed into the power grid?

wind energy, thyssenkrupp

With the help of hydrogen as an energy storage medium, renewable energy plants such as wind farms can guarantee a constant energy supply.

Water electrolysis – how it works

In a water electrolysis plant, electricity is passed through water, thereby initiating the splitting of the water molecules into their two components, hydrogen and oxygen. Oxygen accumulates at the plus pole, rises and escapes into the atmosphere. Hydrogen accumulates at the minus pole, from where it can be captured and stored. The stored energy from the process of water electrolysis, which is now in the hydrogen molecules, can be released again by the reverse reaction of hydrogen with oxygen. The energy is needed, for example, in the production of methanol from steelworks emissions for the chemical industry.

Water electrolysis, hydrogen, energy

When water is supplied with electric current, the water molecules split up and arrange themselves at the anode or cathode, depending on the component.

Carbon2Chem – Water electrolysis on an industrial scale

Since green sources, such as the sun and wind, do not continuously produce energy at the same intensity, effective storage is necessary for the supply of green electricity. The surplus generated at favourable times can be stored using hydrogen, making electricity from renewable sources available at any time – without polluting the atmosphere with CO2.

Thanks to water electrolysis, thyssenkrupp is also well on the way to achieving a low CO2 emissions balance. Under the name Carbon2Chem, thyssenkrupp experts in Duisburg are working on modern hydrogen technology and ‘recycle’ the waste gases from steel production into valuable chemical base materials. This is because hydrogen technology can be used to produce starting materials for various sectors of industry.

At the Carbon2Chem pilot plant in Duisburg, so-called metallurgical gases are processed with the aid of hydrogen to produce so-called synthesis gases. These synthesis gases are valuable chemical raw materials that serve as precursors for the production of methanol, ammonia or polymers. Substances which in turn can be used to produce fuel, fertilizer or plastics. The result: CO2 is not emitted into the atmosphere, neither in steel production nor in the chemical processes, but is instead converted into something valuable.

Plastic, Hard plastic, hydrogen, chemical industry

From the shampoo bottle to the hard-plastic gearwheel – plastic is omnipresent and was previously made from mineral, i.e. petroleum. In this context, hydrogen would be a more climate-friendly alternative for the chemical industry.

How hydrogen makes the chemical industry a little greener

The experts at thyssenkrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers have further developed the alkaline electrolysis process so that it is also suitable for fluctuating power supplies from green sources. This is an important development step because conventional plants for alkaline electrolysis require a constant power supply around the clock.

The innovative plant, marketed by Dr. Lukas Lüke, product manager for thyssenkrupp water electrolysis technology, and his team, achieves efficiencies of over 80%. This simply means that 80% of the energy supplied during electrolysis can be stored. The plant is therefore designed for large and particularly efficient production of hydrogen. Added to this is the modular design of the plant, which makes any expansion easier than with traditional plants. Dr. Lukas Lüke, from thyssenkrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers, gives us an insight into the innovative plant which can be used to exploit the potential of hydrogen:

Conditions for a successful energy transition

Based on the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, thyssenkrupp has set itself the target of reducing its own emissions by 30% by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2050. In order to achieve this, we aim to reduce emissions or achieve climate neutrality in our production, energy consumption and product life cycle. The Science Based Initiative (SBTi) has classified these climate targets of thyssenkrupp as science-based and achievable. This makes us one of only ten German companies whose climate targets have been scientifically confirmed by SBTi.

But to achieve climate neutrality – not just in our company but throughout Germany – we need significantly more renewable energy sources. However, the current capacity of green energy in Germany is not sufficient to meet current and future demand. For example, the operation of our steel mill in Duisburg alone would currently require all the renewable energies available in Germany for 12 months. Political regulations are therefore also needed to promote renewable energy sources and make a switch to climate-neutral production chains attractive for more companies. For example, it would be possible to produce hydrogen in sunny regions of the world and bring it to Europe by tanker. The first initiatives in this direction are already underway.

So, there is still a lot of room for development in the hydrogen-related technologies and a great need for renewable energy sources – for today, but above all for the future. That’s why we at thyssenkrupp are working to continuously develop our technologies.

Author

David Penman
  • written by David Penman
  • 26. May 2020

This is Brilliant!

Please Review and Comment on the Following:

Author

Paul Purcell
  • written by Paul Purcell
  • 26. May 2020

Some simple legislation that stipulates that all new cars must be able to run on hydrogen as well as gas would instantly start the hydrogen economy and start moving us towards a pollution free society..

Hydrogen can power an internal combustion engine quite nicely than you very much!.. An internal combustion engine that is fitted to run on propane is nearly identical to one optimized to run on hydrogen.. They can in fact run the other fuel just fine.. The vehicle can be fitted with an electrolysis unit that can fill the tank with hydrogen.. All the operator has to do is fill a tank with water and plug the car in.. No hydrogen filling stations required.. It’s my belief that the deployment of clean energy and clean transportation systems must be flexible.. A system that can work on a variety of different fuels will more easily integrate into our society.. Many cars on North American roads are retrofitted to run on both gasoline and propane.. Making a flexible fuel delivery system for those vehicles so they could run on gasoline, propane and or hydrogen would not be very difficult.. If the vehicle was driving on hydrogen that was sourced from the electrolysis of water using electricity generated from a clean renewable energy source like wind, wave or solar the car would be driving 100% completely pollution free.. There are smarter ways of going about things… We just have to recognize why things are the way they are and make the responsible choice..

BMW blast off happens 1:55 minutes in to the video…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5qWOwmypeA

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Author

Paul Purcell
  • written by Paul Purcell
  • 26. May 2020

Hydrogen could supply the heat needed for Sterling engines quite nicely.. The Sterling engine with it’s external combustion format can offer flexibility in the fuel used to supply the heat. This attribute could not only offer clean choices but free consumers from market fluctuations and make good use of seasonal and episodic fuel abundances..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbnGlcQiL1c

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Author

Hugh shorthouse
  • written by Hugh shorthouse
  • 27. May 2020

I read with great interest, about your Hydrogen plant at Duisburg. I have always thought that the desserts of the world , could be used for generating solar energy. I wish l was not old,you at Duisburg are moving into a fantisic new world away from fossible fuels. My headmaster at my school , told us about iron partical rocket propulsion, but l did not understand as l was too young. Thanks for your article, it was very good reading. Keep up the good work

Well done ThyssenKrupp. Just the sort of effort needed. I would like to be kept up to date on the progress

Author

edwin
  • written by edwin
  • 18. June 2020

Well done and i look forward for more info may i have known in future..
To all the concern and staffs gathering this useful information i would like to say ‘ keep up the good work’

Author

Mynul Islam

All are Best.
All are Green.
All well.

Author

Harold
  • written by Harold
  • 31. July 2020

Hydrogen is the way to go. It’s really not that difficult. Just need the various government bodies to put the legislation in place to drive this technology forward.

Author

Tony Stanley
  • written by Tony Stanley
  • 17. August 2020

Industrial use Hydrogen needs to change to Hydrolysis of course, but its not really part of the energy transition. By all means use renewables to make hydrogen that is needed but it is not useful as a storage medium on its own.

80% efficiency for part of the process is hardly useful when the overall storage efficiency is 30-40%. (eg grid storage or for electric vehicles).

You are competing with batteries at over 90% efficiency

Hydrogen purely for storage of electricity only works in a world where batteries are significantly more expensive, and that ended around 2010.

Author

Bishnu P Gautam
  • written by Bishnu P Gautam
  • 14. September 2020

Interesting. I am wondering what was the efficiency of the typical traditional electrolysis process before achieving the state-of-the-art 80% efficiency? Is it a marginal improvement or a significant one (say, in a 2 or 3 decades time)?

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