New German ecoPtG project seeks to make power-to-gas commercially viable with help of automotive technology
In collaboration with engineering partner IAV, the Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg, ZSW); the Reiner Lemoine Institut (RLI); and Wasserelektrolyse Hydrotechnik (HT) are researching cost-effective methods of producing hydrogen with the help of automotive technology. In the ecoPtG project, the researchers and engineers are developing an alkaline water electrolyzer with an output of 100 kW. They aim to demonstrate that CO2-neutral hydrogen can be produced in a cost-effective manner and intend to facilitate the storage of electricity.
Electricity is increasingly being generated from fluctuating renewable sources. Solar and wind energy generation depends on the weather and is subject to significant fluctuations. At times, renewable energy production thus temporarily exceeds regional demand. Hydrogen produced according to the power-to-gas method can play a role in resolving this challenge and decarbonizing the transport sector. By converting electricity to gas, solar and wind power become storable. If required, hydrogen can be reconverted or used as environmentally compatible fuel for fuel cell vehicles.
High investment costs have been barrier to market entry, especially in the case of smaller electrolyzers. The partners set up the ecoPtG project to change this situation. Using a straightforward concept, simplified production processes and affordable materials—such as plastics—they intend to make the envisaged alkaline 100-kilowatt electrolysis fit for the market.
To achieve this aim, the project partners are predominantly using automotive technology, focusing on power electronics, steering and sensor technology as well as production process components for temperature control and media loops. In the automotive industry, many of these components, which also meet electrolysis requirements, are mass-produced cost-effectively using various drive technologies. The ecoPtG project has been designed to investigate ways of transferring these technologies to hydrogen production.
Peripheral parts such as the control unit or power electronics drive the costs up and are thus a major hurdle preventing industrial use of smaller electrolyzers. We know these parts from vehicle development where they are already produced in large volumes at low costs. IAV wants to use this know-how in the ecoPtG project with successful integration of vehicle technology in electrolyzers. Our aim is to develop a modular low-cost electrolyzer in the 100 kW class for the production of 4-35 kg hydrogen per day.—Dr.-Ing. Christopher Severin, Head of Department for System Development and Combustion Concepts at IAV
Based on a resolution of the German Parliament, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology is providing a total of €4.75 million in funding for ecoPtG.