With the purchase of a 54 percent majority stake in electrolysis stack specialist Hoeller Electrolyzer, Rolls-Royce is entering the hydrogen production market.
This technology will serve as the foundation for a new line of mtu electrolyzer products from its Power Systems division. Under the trade name Prometheus, Wismar, Germany-based Hoeller Electrolyzer is a young technological business that is creating highly effective polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) stacks for the economically efficient generation of hydrogen.
The demand for “green” hydrogen, which has zero CO2 emissions during production, is anticipated to expand dramatically as hydrogen becomes an increasingly appealing power source to support the green energy transition. It is required for industrial operations that currently employ hydrogen that is not produced in a carbon-neutral method, for fuel cells and hydrogen engines, for the creation of synthetic “drop-in” fuels, and for other industrial applications. Consequently, a crucial part of any hydrogen system is high-performance electrolyzers.
By creating our own mtu electrolyzers and acquiring a majority stake in Hoeller Electrolyzers, we are methodically expanding our hydrogen portfolio and securing access to this fascinating technology, which is not just a pipe dream but has significant market potential, according to Dr. Otto Preiss, COO and Chief Technology Officer, Rolls-Royce Power Systems. This will allow us to provide comprehensive hydrogen solutions and significantly aid in climate protection. Our full hydrogen solutions give clients the ability to store energy from renewable sources in the form of hydrogen for consumption as needed, as well as for additional processing or sale.
When water is exposed to DC electrical current during hydrogen electrolysis, hydrogen is produced at the negative pole and oxygen at the positive pole. In this manner, power generated from renewable resources like solar or wind may be used to generate carbon-neutral hydrogen. In a cell, a membrane-separated pair of plate-shaped electrodes conduct the electrochemical process. The core of an electrolyzer is a “stack” made up of hundreds of cells stacked one on top of the other and compressed together.
With Prometheus, Hoeller Electrolyzer has established itself as one of the few highly specialized specialist players in the market for high-efficiency PEM electrolysis stacks since its establishment in 2016. Stefan Höller, the company’s founder, has more than 25 years of expertise in the development of electrolysis technology and has already filed 14 patent applications related to Prometheus. Special surface technologies for the bipolar plates, which greatly minimize the usage of pricey precious metals platinum and iridium as catalysts and enhance output pressure, offer particularly high efficiency.
Hoeller Electrolyzer’s Stefan Höller, the company’s managing director, declared: “Our stack is going to create hydrogen at a price not previously imagined achievable.”
The prospect of zero-carbon energy, both for power supply and the propulsion of heavy vehicles, unites Rolls-Royce and Hoeller Electrolyzer. Rolls-Royce is planning to build a full electrolyzer system and has a global sales and service network, opening up the possibility for large global sales. Rolls-Royce has decades of experience and systems knowledge.
In addition to finding a significant client for our stacks in Rolls-Royce, we have also discovered an appropriate partner and supporter who shares our goal of bringing stacks into full production, according to Matthias Kramer, CFO and Joint Managing Director at Hoeller Electrolyzer.
The first mtu electrolyzer employing a stack from Hoeller Electrolyzer is currently under development. It will be put into use in 2023 at the Friedrichshafen Validation Center to show how an electrolyzer fits into the overall design of a microgrid. A first client project is already scheduled for 2024.
We’re planning to introduce electrolyzers with many megawatts of electricity right away, according to Armin Fürderer, who oversees Power Systems’ Net Zero Solutions division. Combining numerous electrolyzers might provide an output of more than 100 megawatts.
The stake that Rolls-Royce presently owns in Hoeller Electrolyzer was acquired through the exit of minority owners and an increase in share capital. The transaction’s financial specifics are not being made public. Hoeller Electrolyzer will continue to be run by Stefan Höller and Matthias Kramer as a stand-alone business with the objective of becoming a preeminent global stack producer.