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Pilot project generates green hydrogen from seawater

Posted on 22 Jan 2022 and read 1714 times
Pilot project generates green hydrogen from seawaterPic: Schaeffler

Because only ‘green hydrogen’ produced from renewable energies is climate-neutral, Schaeffler — one of the world’s leading automotive and industrial suppliers — is working on solutions that enable the production of the significant quantities of green hydrogen required ‘for the energy transition’.

A feasibility study was completed by the Dutch start-up Hydron Energy BV, which has been part of Schaeffler since the summer of 2021, together with Wageningen Food & Biobased Research (WFBR, part of Wageningen University and Research) and financial support from the Dutch government funding agency RVO. Over the course of the SEA2H2 project, the consortium proved that the production of climate-neutral hydrogen is possible from seawater.

The basis of the project is the treatment of seawater suitable for membrane electrolysis (for producing hydrogen and oxygen). Electrolysers require the use of ultra-pure water, which means seawater must be desalinated for this purpose, as well as ‘elaborately purified and filtered’.

The solution developed together with WFBR sees the waste heat from the electrolysis process used to desalinate the seawater, thereby allowing green hydrogen to be produced with energy from offshore wind farms and transported onshore via pipelines.

industrial scale deployments

The Sea2H2 consortium has demonstrated the functions and capabilities of its water treatment in a test plant operated on the Dutch North Sea island of Texel. The Hydron team is now working to scale the hybrid system of desalination and membrane electrolysis components for industrial scale deployments while reducing costs and increasing operational efficiency and longevity.

Sander ten Hoopen, one of the founders of Hydron Energy BV and current head of Schaeffler Systems Engineering, said: “Hydrogen produced from green energy from offshore wind turbines is set to play a crucial role in achieving Europe’s climate targets. We are very proud that we are able to contribute to the further expansion of Schaeffler’s value chain and the competitive production of green hydrogen with our development and the experience we have already gained.”

Bernd Hetterscheidt, head of Schaeffler’s ‘Strategic Business Unit Hydrogen’, added: “Wind2Hydrogen — the generation of green hydrogen from wind energy — is an important growth sector for Schaeffler. In cooperation with our partners in the wind power industry, we want to become one of the leading suppliers of system components in this sector.

“To this end, we are combining Hydron’s innovative development with Schaeffler’s strengths, such as our understanding of systems and our expertise in the rapid scaling of products and projects, in order to bring them to market as quickly as possible, while at the same time conforming with the highest quality standards.”