20.12.2021 | Schweinfurt
- Schaeffler expands its competencies, technologies and products in the field of green hydrogen production
- Innovative solution for desalination and purification of seawater enables operation of Schaeffler’s own PEM stack
- Effectiveness of the technology proven by test operation in the port of Texel
Only the so-called green hydrogen produced from renewable energies is climate-neutral. Schaeffler, one of the world’s leading automotive and industrial suppliers, is therefore working specifically on solutions that can be used to produce the quantities of green hydrogen required for the energy transition.
Together with Wageningen Food & Biobased Research (WFBR, part of Wageningen University) and with funding from the Dutch funding agency RVO, the Dutch start-up Hydron Energy B.V., which has been part of Schaeffler since summer 2021, carried out a feasibility study for this purpose: As part of the SEA2H2 project, the consortium proved that climate-neutral hydrogen can be produced from seawater.
The challenge for the described application lies, among other things, in the treatment of seawater for membrane electrolysis. This is because electrolysers require high-purity water. For this purpose, seawater must be desalinated and extensively purified and filtered. The solution developed jointly with WFBR is as innovative as it is obvious: the waste heat from the electrolysis process is used to treat the seawater. With this technology, green hydrogen can be produced with energy from offshore wind farms and transported onshore via pipelines.
Hydron has already demonstrated the functionality of its water treatment system in a test plant operated on the Dutch North Sea island of Texel.
As part of Schaeffler, the Hydron team is now working to scale the filter, desalination and membrane electrolysis components for industrial-scale deployments while reducing costs and increasing operational efficiency and longevity.
Hydrogen as a strategic business area at Schaeffler
“Hydrogen produced from the green energy of offshore wind turbines will play a crucial role in achieving European climate targets. We are very proud that with our development and the experience we have already gained, we can contribute to the further expansion of Schaeffler’s value chain and to the competitive production of green hydrogen,” says Sander ten Hoopen, one of the founders of Hydron Energy B.V. and current head of Schaeffler Systems Engineering.
“Wind2Hydrogen, i.e. the generation of green hydrogen from wind energy, is an important growth area for Schaeffler. In cooperation with our partners in the wind power industry, we want to become one of the leading suppliers of system components in this field,” adds Bernd Hetterscheidt, Head of Strategic Business Unit Hydrogen at Schaeffler. “To this end, we are combining Hydron’s innovative development with Schaeffler’s strengths, such as our understanding of systems and our expertise in the rapid scaling of products and projects, in order to bring them to market as quickly as possible while meeting the highest quality standards.
As a key factor in the topics of sustainability and mobility, hydrogen is an important strategic business area for Schaeffler and part of the Roadmap 2025. For example, Schaeffler is also involved in the H2Giga hydrogen lead project of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. As consortium leader of the sub-project “Stack Scale up – Industrialization PEM Electrolysis”, the company is working together with nine partners from industry and research to realize the series production of the latest electrolysis stacks as quickly as possible.