Hydrogen Lab opens in Leuna Chemical Park

In the framework of the “Fokusreise Strukturwandel,” Prof. Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, and Prof. Armin Willingmann, Minister of the Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt, officially handed over the Hydrogen Lab Leuna (HLL) building to the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems IWES in the Central German mining region (Structural Change Focus Journey). Prof. Willingmann additionally delivered the funding announcement for the Hydrogen Competence Hub structural transformation project, which serves as a focal point for training and education.

Fraunhofer IWES is paving the way for cutting-edge research and development for the production and use of green hydrogen in the chemical sector with the Hydrogen Lab in Leuna. In order to meet climate targets, defossilization—or switching to green hydrogen throughout the entire process chain—is a crucial component of the chemical industry’s raw material supply. After an extensive period of planning and development, Prof. Willingmann, the Federal State of Saxony-Minister Anhalt’s for Science, Energy, Climate Protection, and the Environment, and Prof. Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, officially opened the HLL in the Leuna Chemical Park. The vitally required market ramp-up for hydrogen technologies in Saxony-Anhalt and beyond will be accelerated by the Hydrogen Lab in Leuna. The extremely cutting-edge research facility will significantly aid Saxony-Anhalt in becoming a new hub for a sustainable hydrogen economy. Furthermore, the successful molding of the structural transformation in the region depends on the development of the hydrogen economy. Together with the Merseburg University of Applied Sciences, the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, and the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, we are actively addressing the shortage of specialists and managers by funding the Hydrogen Competence Hub education and training project, according to Minister Prof. Willingmann. As a result, Leuna will draw not only national but also worldwide project partners and industrial clients.

“The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is demonstrating effective ways for the energy transition, as well as for successful structural change in the Central German mining region, with the construction of the chemical and hydrogen hub in Leuna, which has already been a prosperous nucleus for successful cooperation between science and industry for several years. The Hydrogen Lab Leuna, one of three Fraunhofer Hydrogen Labs spread across the nation, concentrates on research along the hydrogen generation value chain. Green hydrogen generated there will be examined, processed, and fed directly into the 157-km-long H2 pipeline, where it will be supplied to the area’s industrial locations and used in chemical operations. The new Hydrogen Competence Hub will also tackle a major issue that affects all mining regions: a lack of qualified management and workers. Through education and training, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft also significantly contributes to structural change in this area, according to Prof. Neugebauer, president of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

The Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt has completed the construction of the pilot plant required for the research work at the HLL and has handed it over to Fraunhofer IWES with the official opening. The necessary lab apparatus and facilities, which were not included in the HLL construction project, are currently being installed within the pilot plant. “We are thrilled to be able to formally assume control of the HLL and thereby have a location to build our enormous test infrastructure. However, the pilot plant has already reached its capacity, so we must immediately begin planning for expansion. We are on the path to a sustainable hydrogen economy in the Leuna Chemical Park, which we will actively support on the research side, and the scientific work on the initial projects has already started. In this regard, we would like to express our gratitude for the grant announcement for the Hydrogen Competence Hub, with which we are working with the local institutions to contribute to the creation and maintenance of the critically needed trained workforce. Dr.-Ing. Sylvia Schattauer, acting director of Fraunhofer IWES, continued, “With the hub, we are working to increase transfer between vocational and scientific further education in order to be able to quickly and modularly meet the needs of industry through the acquisition of additional qualifications.

Lithium Lab Leuna

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is making a new generation of test infrastructure for hydrogen technologies available in the Central German Chemical Triangle with the HLL sponsored by the Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt and the EU. A new platform for industry and research collaboration is produced by the fusion of methodological competence and distinctive research infrastructure. The HLL, which is a part of the Leuna Chemical Park’s materials network, has four test benches and a pilot plant for electrolyzers with a 5 MW maximum capacity that can be fueled by deionized water, steam, compressed air, nitrogen, hydrogen, and, eventually, carbon dioxide. The generated green hydrogen will be examined, processed, and put immediately into a 157 km long H2 pipeline. From there, it will be disseminated to the industrial facilities in the area and used in their chemical processes. The HLL’s infrastructure is owned and run by Fraunhofer IWES.

The Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt and the European Union each contributed about €8 million toward the development of the Hydrogen Lab Leuna. With project funding for the test infrastructure, the Hydrogen Lab Leuna’s total construction cost comes to more than €10 million.

Not one, but two STARK projects will begin work in the upcoming year:

Hydrogen Competence Hub education and training project funding notification

Work on creating a central hub for education and training will start in February 2023 and last for two years in collaboration with the Merseburg University of Applied Sciences, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, and the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences. Not only will a regional education network be formed, but also individual further education offers will be created. The objective is to strengthen the region’s capabilities in the area of digital hydrogen technologies and encourage greater transfer between furthering both scientific and practical education. Rapid, flexible coverage of the industry’s needs with additional certifications is required. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) funds from the funding guideline for strengthening the transformation dynamics and new beginning in the mining regions and at the coal-fired power plant sites have been allocated €2.5 million for this innovative and necessary project (STARK).

The second project, known as House of Transfer, aims to integrate the already-running initiatives in the area by serving as a focal point for players in the chemical, biobased economy, plastics, and hydrogen industries. In this case, for instance, technology providers and industrial demands will be brought together, as will project ideas and investors, start-ups and seasoned players, leading to a comprehensive offering of consulting and other services. The House of Transfer project has already been funded with €4.6 million as of September 28, 2022, and it will get going in January.

Focus on the Structural Change Journey

Numerous regions are dealing with significant economic and social issues as a result of growing digitalization and restructuring during the process of sustainable value creation and related economic, ecological, and social transformation. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft actively promotes structural change brought on by innovation through networking and the planned creation of new value chains. The goal is to use innovation-promoting strategies to assist the regions affected by structural change into a dynamic economic path, so assisting in the reduction of regional disparities. Scientists from regionally anchored institutes will present cutting-edge approaches to solutions as part of the Structural Change Focus Journey from November 1 to 7, 2022. These approaches are suitable for enhancing the future viability and inventive strength of regions affected by structural change. Future technology routes will be determined through discussions on supply security, environmentally friendly manufacturing techniques, and agriculture with partners in business, science, and politics.