New hydrogen technology shows promise for storage and transport of renewable energy

Siemens and Hyrogenious Technologies, a German start-up company spun out from research at Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, are jointly developing a new safe hydrogen generation, storage and transport technology that may play a role in Australia's rapidly growing solar and wind power energy industry.

With Siemens' Silyzer electrolysis system, electrical power can be transformed into hydrogen converting water into hydrogen and oxygen without releasing carbon dioxide (CO2). When this system is combined with Hydrogenious' Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) system, it offers a safe and economically viable way of storing electricity generated at renewable sites for transfer to usage sites such as cities.

According to Hydrogenious Technologies, one cubic meter of LOHC carrying hydrogen can store more than 600 cubic meters of hydrogen gas and therefore about 2 MWh of energy. Further, the hydrogen is transported as a low-flammable, non-explosive oil. LOHC can be stored and transported under ambient conditions in the existing fuel infrastructure without the need for high pressures or low temperatures.

The technology is currently being trialled in a demonstration project creating an intelligent process chain from the sun to power consumption.

At its Erlangen location, Hydrogenious Technologies is converting power generated by its own solar power plant to hydrogen with a Silyzer. The hydrogen is then immediately bonded to the LOHC liquid. The hydrogenated LOHC is transported in a standard liquid tank, which can be either plastic or stainless steel, to Stuttgart, where the hydrogen is released again.

There, on the parking level of the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, the substance is transformed into electrical power in a stationary fuel cell and can then be used to recharge electric cars. The aim of the Fraunhofer project is to demonstrate the intelligent combination of renewable energies, storage options, and electromobility in a micro smart grid.

In its first application outside of Germany, the Siemens Silyzer is set to be used in Australia by French company, Neoen, to refuel a fleet of 20 hydrogen-powered Hyundai Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) purchased by the ACT Government.

The renewable energy will be provided by Hornsdale Wind Farm Stage 3 project, commissioned by the ACT Government. The Siemens hydrogen refueler is capable of powering over 1000 FCEVs travelling an average of 14,000km a year without any fossil fuels.

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