In close collaboration with leading basic industries and energy producers, Lule University of Technology is now investing heavily in research and education. The use of hydrogen in industrial processes and energy systems is the main focus. The heart of the project is LTU Green Fuels, the university’s advanced pilot plant for large-scale industrial experiments.
The key to a fossil-free energy system is hydrogen, and Lule University of Technology is working to ensure that development in Sweden. Vice-Chancellor Birgitta Bergvall-Kreborn of Lule University of Technology says, “We are implementing our hydrogen investment in order to be a strong research and education partner for the Swedish hydrogen industry, as well as to contribute to the global goal of replacing fossil fuels and managing climate change.”
LKAB, SSAB, Vattenfall, Hybrit, H2 Green Steel, Skellefte Kraft, NTNU Energi Team Hydrogen at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), and Pite municipality are the first partners in CH2ESS (Center for Hydrogen Energy Systems Sweden). More stakeholders with a hydrogen interest will be included in the long run.
The university is putting $60 million into the project.
Lule University of Technology is investing 60 million over the next six years, but the goal is to double the budget with outside funding. The players all have an interest in the important hydrogen research, innovation, and pilot projects that are taking place in northern Sweden. The real needs and significant challenges associated with these hydrogen investments are the starting point for CH 2 ESS.
Hydrogen as a source of energy
– We are optimistic about LTU’s ability to build hydrogen competence in Norrbotten, as this is critical to LKAB’s transition. LKAB will use large amounts of hydrogen gas to produce carbon dioxide-free sponge iron, reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 35 million tonnes, or two-thirds of Sweden’s total emissions. This puts a lot of pressure on renewable energy sources and the power grid to expand. According to Lars Ydreskog, senior vice president of strategic projects at LKAB, hydrogen gas serves as an energy storage, for example in combination with wind power, where gas is produced on windy days and stored underground for use on windless days.
Production, storage, and use of hydrogen are all critical.
The CH 2 ESS research investment takes a comprehensive approach to hydrogen production, storage, and transportation, including process integration and the electric power system.
– Electrification and the phase-out of fossil fuels are critical for Swedish industry to meet not only climate goals, but also to become a global leader in climate protection. According to Mikael Nordlander, Head of R&D Portfolio Industry Decarbonisation at Vattenfall, hydrogen production, storage, and use will play an important role in this transition to solve the greatest challenge of our time and enable a fossil-free life within a generation.
Core with a heavy experimental bent
Lule University of Technology (LTU Green Fuels), the university’s pilot plant for fuel synthesis, is planning a core of heavy experimental activities. Electrolysis systems can be studied on an industrial scale, industrial sub-processes can be simulated, and experiments that are too advanced or expensive for commercial plants can be carried out. CH2ESS also funds sub-projects that are theoretical or make use of the university’s advanced lab scale equipment.
– We want to work out an efficient process integration of our hydrogen plant with Lule University of Technology. We will be able to balance the electricity grid by increasing and decreasing hydrogen production. As a result, we are able to reduce the overall impact on the network while also lowering production costs. This is a critical component of producing competitive fossil-free steel. H2 Green Steel’s Chief Technology Officer, Maria Persson-Gulda, says
500 engineers with a master’s degree who are experts in hydrogen
Large-scale investments in the hydrogen sector, particularly in northern Sweden, necessitate a large number of MSc-qualified engineers and other qualified personnel with relevant skills. Lule University of Technology develops its research and education in collaboration with companies in the CH 2 ESS to meet the needs for hydrogen competence. Starting in the autumn of 2021, Lule University of Technology CH 2 ESS will train 500 engineers with an MSc degree with broad basic competence and relevant cutting-edge competence in the hydrogen area in ten years.
Eliminates the use of fossil fuels in the steelmaking process.
– We have a long history of improving energy efficiency and lowering emissions at SSAB. Now we’re going to make a bold technological leap that no one else has done before: we’re going to eliminate fossil emissions from steel production. This will necessitate the use of new fossil-free energy systems, such as hydrogen. As a result, cutting-edge research and close collaborations will be critical, which is why this initiative is so welcome, according to Monica Quinteiro, site manager at SSAB Lule.
Lule University of Technology is also investing in customized commissioned training for professionals, as well as a new scheme called the CH2ESS trainee, in which students collaborate with company employees to solve specific challenges in the hydrogen energy transition. CH 2 ESS is a unique opportunity for graduate engineering students at Lule University of Technology to become directly involved in the sustainable “Klondike-like” environment with research and development around hydrogen technology, which is gaining traction in northern Sweden.