Hydrogen storage for renewable energy

If the proportion of renewable energy increases, it also means increased dependency on the weather. Sometimes the wind blows strongly and the sun shines, and sometimes not. Nevertheless, the power grid in Germany is supposed to constantly provide industry and households with stable and sufficient electricity. The solution proposed by the “Hydrogen Power Storage & Solutions East Germany” Consortium (HYPOS): surplus energy from large-scale photovoltaic installations and wind farms will be used for electrolysis – eco-friendly hydrogen will be produced from hydrogen dioxide (a.k.a. water!) – with the products then stored.
The hydrogen can be made available as a tailor-made alternative to natural gas at gas stations and for fuel cells. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is supporting HYPOS with 45 million EUR in funding until 2020. The innovative conversion will also involve the chemical industry in the cities of Leuna and Böhlen. Prof. Ralf Wehrspohn, head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM branch of the institute in Halle, Germany, is coordinating this strategic project and is Deputy Chair of HYPOS, a registered society. IWM is providing support for industrial producers with its research in materials science.

In order to store hydrogen in salt domes and distribute it through pipelines, companies building the production facilities need to harden the materials used for the storage tanks and tubing in order to meet the new requirements. They can corrode due to mixtures of gases, for example, and become brittle due to exposure to hydrogen. Pre-existing defects that have no impact on natural gas pipeline operations often become worse when exposed to mixtures of gases containing hydrogen.

The researchers intend to investigate the combined mechanical strength and corrosion resistance required using laboratory tests. IWM is working together with the Fraunhofer Center for Silicon Photovoltaics CSP on the design and development of modules and components for two combination solar/wind farms in Leuna and Böhlen that are planned to be the baseline energy source for the electrolysis.

Photo credit: Siemens & Erik Streb/Creative Commons

You may also like...

Leave a Reply