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Wind to hydrogen

Methane from hydrogen: researchers at the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) have optimized methanation.
Wind energy is a major pillar of the energy revolution
© alpha ventus

The core element of the „Wind-Wasserstoff-Kopplung“ (“combined wind-hydrogen”) flagship project is the generation of hydrogen with significantly more efficient and, in particular, more flexible technologies for chemical change, known as electrolysers. The need for fast and flexible regulation arises from the fluctuating feed-in of renewable energy into the power grid. If the hydrogen is converted into methane, it can easily be distributed via the natural gas network. In this case, it is known as “Power­to­Gas” technology, which is already regarded as an important option by the energy industry. It is, however, not yet economically viable. The projects should help to make this storage option more economical through improved technology.

Focus areas

As part of the „Wind-Wasserstoff-Kopplung“ (“combined wind-hydrogen”) flagship project, the biggest technical challenge is to achieve the highest degree of efficiency possible in the decomposition of water into storable hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis. Scientists are also investigating the possibility of storing hydrogen in geological storage systems and efficiently reconverting it into electricity. The methanation of hydrogen will allow us to use the infrastructure and the storage capacity of the natural gas network.
Example projects:

  • The “ekolyser” joint project uses the expertise of research institutions (Research Centre Jülich and the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society) and industry (Solvicore, Gräbener Maschinentechnik, FuMA-Tech) to develop improved components for flexible PEM electrolysers. Based on extensive experience in the development of components for fuel cells, the group's participants hope to improve the service life of membranes, develop metallic bipolar plates for the demanding operation in electrolysers and reduce the loading of expensive catalysts.
  • In the LastElSys project, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and Hydrogenics GmbH is further developing PEM electrolysers and adapting them to the changing loads that occur when using electricity from fluctuating renewable energy sources. The aim is to achieve membrane electrolysis units resistant to load changes for use in PEM electrolysis systems. To do this, a test system is to be built in which various combinations of membranes and catalysts can be researched and tested.
  • A project at the Technische Universität Berlin is working on developing new, highly active and cost-effective electrolysis catalysts for both part-reactions in hydrogen electrolysis. The project will help in the medium to long term to improve the cost effectiveness of storing energy in the form of hydrogen.

Wind to hydrogen: number of projects by topic (as of June 2013)
© FIZ Karlsruhe
Supported by: The Federal Government on the basis of a decision by the German Bundestag


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