News – What`s happening in energy research

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In October 2012, a 250-kW Power-to-Gas plant commenced operation at the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research, Baden-Württemberg (ZSW). The researchers from Stuttgart are now working on a Power-to-Gas electrolyser for the megawatt scale.
Power-to-Gas to break the megawatt barrier

To optimise the manufacture of the electrolyser, the researchers are defining subsystems. These will then be optimised and produced in accordance with an improved construction plan.

Powerful electrolysers in a compact design

It is planned to temporarily store surplus electricity from renewable energies using Power-to-Gas. This process uses electrolysis to convert the electricity into hydrogen, which can then be easily stored like natural gas. Although previous electrolysis systems have not been economically efficient. A new design should now enable the technology to be produced cheaply on a megawatt scale.

The plan is to mass-produce electrolysers on a megawatt scale, since this Power-to-Gas component is currently only produced in small numbers. The Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research, Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) is working on achieving a cheaper design for the electrolysers.

A more compact design will lead the way to a greater performance class. “By technically enhancing our electrolysis system we take an important step towards generating cheaper hydrogen for the Power-to-Gas process,” explains project leader Andreas Brinner from ZSW.

Electrolyser sub-systems in the spotlight

The researchers are first of all defining subsystems for the electrolyser. Each subsystem, such as the cooling system, will then be optimised. In accordance with the improved model, the individual subsystems shall be built by specialist companies and then tested. The plant will then be assembled and tested at ZSW. The prototype is planned to have an output of 300 kilowatts.

The concept envisages the use of a modular structure. The core of the electrolyser is the stack. In this project a short stack is being developed, which has around 70 cells that have larger surface areas and a greater gas output. The output will be scaled up to more than one megawatt. This will enable the prototype to be built more compactly than its predecessors. The researchers are hoping that this approach will soon enable the subsystems to go into mass production. In addition to ZSW, the SolarFuel plant manufacturing company and the Enertrag Hytec electrolyser production company are also involved in the project. The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety is spending roughly 3.3 million euros on the project.



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