speed ahead with hydrogen
Hydrogen is a
surprisingly versatile fuel: it can be used to supply fuel cells with a
downstream electric motor, for example, or to produce e-fuels. It can also be
admixed in combustion engines, gas turbines and gas engines. Researchers are
currently looking into converting gas turbines and engines to run on up to
100 percent hydrogen. This versatility and good storability make hydrogen
a promising pillar of the energy transition.
Solutions has had a 40-percent stake in hydrogen specialists H-TEC SYSTEMS
since March. The electrolysis firm has been doing research and development in
the field of hydrogen technology for more than 20 years. For MAN ES, the
investment is a logical step within the framework of its corporate strategy,
which aims to generate at least half of revenue with sustainable technologies
“It is important for
us to be able to build and supply electrolyzers for hydrogen production and
Power-to-X systems right now, so that we already have the industrial
experience that our customers expect from us when the market really takes off,”
Marc Grünewald, Head of Business Development, points out.
A glimpse inside an
H-TEC SYSTEMS laboratory container
H-TEC is one of the
top ten firms worldwide when it comes to electrolysis using the PEM process, in
which electricity is employed to break water down into its component parts,
hydrogen and oxygen. Unlike electricity, hydrogen can be stored relatively
easily in pressure tanks or in liquefied form.
Hydrogen can be
turned into methane by adding carbon dioxide and then fed into the natural gas
grid without restriction. This makes it utilizable for a multitude of
applications in the mobility and transport sector, as well as for electricity
and heat generation. For industry, H2 – the chemical designation
for hydrogen – is also an important process raw material.
We already want to have the industrial
experience that our customers expect from us when the market really takes off.
form of electrolysis practiced by H-TEC SYSTEMS is a comparatively new
technology. It is one of the so-called Power-to-X technologies, which involve
converting electricity into chemical fuels. The problem is that fluctuating
amounts of energy from renewable sources like wind and solar still present
challenges for power grids. Using Power-to-X processes, energy from surplus
renewable electricity can be converted into another form, such as hydrogen,
which not only makes it easier to store, but also enables climate-neutral fuels
to be used in areas that were previously reliant on fossil fuels. These
so-called e-fuels could make an important contribution to achieving the
1.5-degree target agreed in the Paris climate accord.
can also help make the maritime energy transition a success. Whereas there are
already numerous possibilities for reducing reliance on fossil fuels on land,
electrification will not play an appreciable role on the high seas for the
foreseeable future. “The amount of electricity required to operate large
container ships can scarcely be stored in batteries. Once converted into
hydrogen and methane, sustainably generated electricity can also be used in
ocean shipping and so further reduce the industry’s ecological footprint in the
form of an e-fuel,” says Matthias Auer (EEEFT).
The purpose of the
partnership is to support H-TEC SYSTEMS in the development of electrolyzers in
a commercially interesting size range. Although MAN ES has been working
successfully on Power-to-X technologies, it is still reliant on partners for
the first step: producing the hydrogen. In the medium to long term, all the
expertise will come from a single source.
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