The Anonymous Widower

Rolls-Royce To Develop mtu Hydrogen Electrolyser And Invest In Hoeller Electrolyser

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Rolls-Royce.

These are the three main points in the press release.

  • Holdings in start-up companies in northern Germany secure Rolls-Royce Power Systems access to key green hydrogen production technology.
  • Electrolysis systems for several megawatts of power.
  • First demonstrator in 2023 using a Hoeller stack.

This is the introductory paragraph to the deal.

Rolls-Royce is entering the hydrogen production market and acquiring a 54% majority stake in electrolysis stack specialist Hoeller Electrolyzer, whose innovative technology will form the basis of a new range of mtu electrolyzer products from its Power Systems division. Hoeller Electrolyzer, based in Wismar, Germany, is an early-stage technology company that is developing highly efficient polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) stacks, under the brand name Prometheus, for the cost-effective production of hydrogen.

This page on the Hoeller Electrolysis web site gives details of Prometheus.

  • Hoeller are planning small, medium and large electrolyser modules, the largest of which is rated at 1.4 MW.
  • Load changes of between 0 and 100 % within seconds.
  • Cold start capability.
  • It will produce 635 Kg/day.
  • They are talking of a cost of 4€/Kg.

It all sounds good to me.

This paragraph is from the press release.

Founded in 2016, Hoeller Electrolyzer has positioned itself, with Prometheus, as one of the few highly specialized expert players in the field of high-efficiency PEM electrolysis stacks. Its founder, Stefan Höller, has more than a quarter of a century’s experience of developing electrolysis technology and has already registered 14 patents connected with Prometheus. Particularly high efficiency is promised by special surface technologies for the bipolar plates which significantly reduce the use of expensive precious metals platinum and iridium as catalysts, as well as increased output pressure.

I know a small amount about electrolysis and feel that Rolls-Royce may have got themselves a high-class deal.

Rolls-Royce’s large German presence in companies like mtu, will also help to smooth any doubts about the deal.

This paragraph indicates a shared belief.

Rolls-Royce and Hoeller Electrolyzer are united by a shared belief in the opportunity of zero-carbon energy – both for power supply and the propulsion of heavy vehicles. With decades of experience and systems expertise, Rolls-Royce is going to develop a complete electrolyzer system and has a global sales and service network, which opens up the potential for significant worldwide sales.

But perhaps, this is the most significant paragraph of the press release.

Armin Fürderer, who heads up the Net Zero Solutions business unit of Power Systems, said: “We’re going to launch electrolyzers with several megawatts of power right from the start. A total output of over 100 megawatts is conceivable by combining several electrolyzers.”

A quick search of the Internet, indicates that 100 MW is the size of the world’s largest electrolysers.

Applications

I can see applications for these large electrolysers.

Rolls-Royce Power Systems

This is a sentence from the press release.

Hoeller Electrolyzer, whose innovative technology will form the basis of a new range of mtu electrolyzer products from its Power Systems division.

The Rolls-Royce Power Systems web site, has this mission statement.

The Power Systems Business Unit of Rolls-Royce is focused on creating sustainable, climate neutral solutions for drive, propulsion and power generation.

In Rolls-Royce Makes Duisburg Container Terminal Climate Neutral With MTU Hydrogen Technology, I describe one of Rolls-Royce Power Systems projects.

The title of this post, is the same as this press release from Rolls-Royce.

This is the first sentence.

Rolls-Royce will ensure a climate-neutral energy supply at the container terminal currently under construction at the Port of Duisburg, Germany.

There is also this Rolls-Royce graphic, which shows the energy sources.

It would appear batteries,  combined heap and power (CHP), grid electricity, hydrogen electrolyser, hydrogen storage and renewable electricity are being brought together to create a climate-neutral energy system.

Note.

  1. The system uses a large hydrogen electrolyser.
  2. I suspect the hydrogen will be generated by off-peak electricity and local renewables.
  3. Hydrogen will probably power the container handling machines, ships, trucks, vehicles and other equipment in the port.

Hydrogen appears to be used as a means of storing energy and also for providing motive power.

I would suspect, the ultimate aim is that the port will not emit any carbon dioxide.

Other ports like Felixstowe and Holyhead seem to be going the hydrogen route.

Refuelling Hydrogen Buses and Charging Electric Buses

If you look at the Duisburg system, I can imagine a similar smaller system being used to refuel hydrogen buses and charge electric ones.

  • The hydrogen electrolyser would be sized to create enough hydrogen for a day or so’s work.
  • Hydrogen would be generated by off-peak electricity and local renewables.
  • If an operator bought more buses, I’m certain that the architecture of the electrolyser would allow expansion.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells would boost the electricity supply, when lots of buses needed to be charged.
  • Any spare hydrogen could be sold to those who have hydrogen-powered vehicles.
  • Any spare electricity could be sold back to the grid.

It should be noted that manufacturers like Wrightbus have developed a range of hydrogen and electric buses that use the same components. So will we see more mixed fleets of buses, where the best bus is assigned to each route?

I have used buses as an example, but the concept would apply to fleets of cars, trucks and vans.

Green Hydrogen

Large efficient electrolysers will surely be the key to producing large quantities of green hydrogen in the future.

It appears that about 55 MWh is needed to produce a tonne of green hydrogen using existing electrolysers.

The Hoeller electrolyser appears to be about 53 MWh, so it is more efficient.

Green Hydrogen From An Onshore Wind Farm

If you look at the average size of an onshore wind farm in the UK, a quick estimate gives a figure of 62 MW. I shouldn’t expect the figure for much of the world is very different, where you ignore the gigafarms, as these will distort the numbers.

An appropriately-sized electrolyser could be added to onshore wind farms to provide a local source of hydrogen for transport, an industrial process or a domestic gas supply for a new housing estate.

A single 5 MW wind turbine with a capacity factor of around 30 % would produce around 680 Kg of green hydrogen per day.

Green Hydrogen From An Offshore Wind Farm

There are basic methods to do this.

Put the electrolyser onshore or put the electrolyser offshore and pipe the hydrogen to the shore.

I think we will see some innovative configurations.

In ScotWind N3 Offshore Wind Farm, I described how Magnora ASA are developing the ScotWind N3 wind farm.

The floating turbines surround a concrete floater, which in the future could contain an electrolyser and tankage for hydrogen.

The ScotWind N3 wind farm is designed to be a wind farm rated at 500 MW.

I can see an electrolyser on the floater, of an optimal size to make sure all electricity is used.

Pink Hydrogen

Pink hydrogen, is zero-carbon hydrogen produced using nuclear-generated electricity.

There are industrial processes, like the making of zero-carbon chemicals, concrete and steel, that will require large quantities of zero-carbon green or pink hydrogen.

Rolls-Royce are developing the Rolls-Royce SMR, which will be a 470 MW small modular nuclear reactor.

One of these placed near to a steel works and coupled to one or more 100 MW electrolysers could provide enough zero-carbon electricity and hydrogen to produce large quantities of zero-carbon green steel.

Manufacturing

Rolls-Royce and their subsidiaries like mtu, seem to be extensive users of advanced manufacturing techniques and I would expect that they can improve Hoeller’s manufacturing.

Research And Development

The press release says this about the founder of Hoeller.

Its founder, Stefan Höller, has more than a quarter of a century’s experience of developing electrolysis technology and has already registered 14 patents connected with Prometheus.

If Rolls-Royce can develop and support Stefan Höller and his team, development could easily go to a higher level.

Conclusion

I think that Rolls-Royce have taken over a company, that will in the end, will design excellent efficient electrolysers.

 

 

 

June 29, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Rolls-Royce SMRs Be The Solution To Europe’s Gas Shortage?

Of all the offshore wind farms, that I’ve looked at recently, I find Magnora’s ScotWind N3 wind farm the most interesting.

I wrote about it in ScotWind N3 Offshore Wind Farm.

I said this.

In any design competition, there is usually at least one design, that is not look like any of the others.

In the successful bids for the ScotWind leases, the bid from Magnora ASA stands out.

  • The company has an unusual home page on its offshore wind web site.
  • This page on their web site outlines their project.
  • It will be technology agnostic, with 15MW turbines and a total capacity of 500MW
  • It will use floating offshore wind with a concrete floater
  • It is estimated, that it will have a capacity factor of 56 %.
  • The water depth will be an astonishing 106-125m
  • The construction and operation will use local facilities at Stornoway and Kishorn Ports.
  • The floater will have local and Scottish content.
  • The project will use UK operated vessels​.
  • Hydrogen is mentioned.
  • Consent is planned for 2026, with construction starting in 2028 and completion in 2030.

This project could serve as a model for wind farms all round the world with a 500 MW power station, hydrogen production and local involvement and construction.

I very much like the idea of a concrete floater, which contains a huge electrolyser and gas storage, that is surrounded by an armada of giant floating wind turbines.

These are my thoughts.

Floating Concrete Structures

To many, they may have appear to have all the buoyancy of a lead balloon, but semi-submersible platforms made from concrete have been used in the oil and gas industry for several decades.

Kishorn Yard in Scotland was used to build the 600,000-tonne concrete Ninian Central Platform,in 1978. The Ninian Central Platform still holds the record as the largest movable object ever created by man.

The Ninian Central Platform sits on the sea floor, but there is no reason why a semi-submersible structure can’t be used.

Electrolysers

There is no reason, why a large electrolyser, such as those made by Cummins, ITM Power or others can’t be used, but others are on the way.

  • Bloom Energy are working on high temperature electrolysis, which promises to be more efficient.
  • Torvex Energy are developing electrolysis technology that used sea water, rather than more expensive purified water.

High Temperature Electrolysis

High temperature electrolysis needs a heat source to work efficiently and in Westinghouse And Bloom Energy To Team Up For Pink Hydrogen, I described how Bloom  Energy propose to use steam from a large nuclear power station.

Offshore Nuclear Power

I’ve never heard of offshore nuclear power, but it is not a new idea.

In 1970, a company called Offshore Power Systems was created and it is introduced in its Wikipedia entry like this.

Offshore Power Systems (OPS) was a 1970 joint venture between Westinghouse Electric Company, which constructed nuclear generating plants, and Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock, which had recently merged with Tenneco, to create floating nuclear power plants at Jacksonville, Florida.

Westinghouse’s reactor was a 1.150 MW unit, which was typical of the time, and is very similar in size to Sizewell B.

The project was cancelled before the reactors were towed into position.

Nuclear Knowledge Has Improved

Consider.

  • In the fifty years since Offshore Power Systems dabbed their toes in the water of offshore nuclear power, our knowledge of nuclear systems and engineering has improved greatly.
  • The offshore oil and gas industry has also shown what works impeccably.
  • The floating offshore wind industry looks like it might push the envelop further.
  • There has been only one nuclear accident at Fukushima, where the sea was part of the problem and that disaster taught us a lot.
  • There have been a large number of nuclear submarines built and most reached the planned end of their lives.
  • Would a small modular nuclear reactor, be safer than a large nuclear power plant of several GW?

I would suggest we now have the knowledge to safely build and operate a nuclear reactor on a proven semi-submersible platform, built from non-rusting concrete.

An Offshore Wind Farm/Small Modular Reactor Combination Producing Hydrogen

Consider.

  • A typical floating offshore wind farm is between one and two gigawatts.
  • A Rolls-Royce small modular reactor is sized to produce nearly 0.5 GW.
  • The high temperature electrolyser will need some heat to achieve an optimum working temperature.
  • Spare electricity can be used to produce hydrogen.
  • Hydrogen can be stored platform.
  • Hydrogen can be sent ashore using existing gas pipes.
  • Hydrogen could even be blended with natural gas produced offshore to create a lower-carbon fuel.
  • It would also be possible to decarbonise nearby offshore infrastructure.

A balance between wind and nuclear power can be obtained, which would provide a steady output of energy.

Conclusion

There are a large numbers of possibilities, to locate a Rolls-Royce small modular reactor close to a wind farm to use high temperature electrolysis to create green hydrogen, which can be used in the UK or exported through the gas network.

June 23, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments