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Renewable hydrogen production facility as a test bed

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iStockphoto.com / Animaflora/ TUM
iStockphoto.com / Animaflora/ TUM
In Bavaria, a pilot facility for the production of hydrogen from biogas will be constructed. It is based on a revolutionary technology that is anticipated to dramatically lower the amount of energy required for hydrogen production compared to existing approaches. Incorporating resistive heating into the chemical reactor will accomplish this.

The objectives of the EU-funded EReTech project, which is supervised by the Technological University of Munich, are the technical development and practical implementation of this strategy (TUM).

The German government has set a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045. To reach this objective, energy-intensive production techniques in the chemical industry, such as those used to manufacture hydrogen, must be replaced with innovative, carbon-neutral, sustainable processes. Within the framework of the European Union (EU) project Electrified Reactor Technology (EReTech), fourteen partners from Bavarian science and industry are constructing a hydrogen plant that is fuelled by electricity derived from renewable energy sources. Hydrogen is produced from biogas.

The plant being constructed near Eichstatt will produce 130 tons of hydrogen annually. This will be utilized, for instance, in hydrogen refueling stations. Completion is anticipated in 2025.

40 percent less carbon dioxide emissions

“Until now, the energy for processes in the chemical industry has been provided by combustion outside the actual reactor,” explains¬†Prof. Johannes Lercher¬†from the Chair of Technical Chemistry II at TUM and head of the EReTech project. Combustion with air produces carbon dioxide in a highly diluted form; it also requires significantly more energy due to heat transfer losses. “Instead of combustion heat, we use electric resistive heating inside the reactors in the EreTech project.”

The startup company SYPOX plays a significant part in the plant’s implementation. Founded at TUM, the company specializes in electrically heated chemical reactors that convert biogas into hydrogen in a carbon-neutral manner.

“With the help of the new technology, we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40 percent compared to the traditional process without reducing productivity,” explains Dr. Gianluca Pauletto of SYPOX.

Technical development involves testing under extreme conditions

In addition to the factory in Bavaria, a test reactor is being constructed in Geleen, Netherlands, to explore the robustness of the new technology in a variety of industrial applications.

“This installation will provide us with critical information and process data for further scale-up of the technology. It will also enable us to offer solutions for the chemical industry in the future, addressing chemical reactions that require high energy input,” explains Pauletto.

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