Hydrogen cannot contribute to energy transfer in the transport industry. But it is a subtle product. Storage and transportation logistics in particular are a challenge. This is where a company from Erlangen comes into operation: Hydrogenous LOHC has found a way to store sensitive hydrogen safely and easily. It does not require high pressure or low temperature. This process is of interest from an environmental point of view.
Cycle: Hydrogen is made up of “green” electricity, chemically bonded to an oil. This is how customer transportation works. There you release H2 again. The oil goes back to reuse.
If this happens according to the plans of many governments, fossil fuels will have to run out in the next few years or at least for decades. So alternatives are needed. One thing that is currently preferred is battery-powered operation. Focuses on driving with hydrogen (H2): In a fuel cell, it reacts with oxygen from the ambient air to produce electricity, which drives the electric motor. Advantages of fuel cell cars: They fill up quickly and cover long distances.
There are currently very few series-ready hydrogen vehicles. Only Hyundai Nexus and Toyota Mirai are offered in Germany, with the recently launched second-generation Japanese manufacturer expecting a significant increase in sales. “We welcome all measures to ensure that hydrogen is used more,” said Andreas Lபெbeck, a spokesman for the company.
Such a move could be a technology coming from the Erllangan company Hydrogenius LOHC. A process has been developed there that significantly facilitates the transport and storage of hydrogen.
With the methods currently in use, very high pressure or very low temperature is required to store H2 in a sensible place. LOHC – Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier – Works Differently: Simply put, hydrogen is chemically bonded to an oil, which is called liquid organic hydrogen carrier. As a result the product is not flammable or explosive and can be stored in large quantities without much safety requirements. At the final application site, hydrogen is released “from the mixture”, for example, used to refuel fuel cell vehicles.
Infrastructure already exists
Transportation does not require special trucks or vessels that can transport gaseous hydrogen at high pressure or in a cryogenic state to a liquid. Instead, chemically bonded H2 can also be loaded into tank trucks, which usually carry heating oil, gasoline or diesel to their destination. The product can be stored in tanks that already have distribution outlets. In other words: the existing infrastructure is adequate for transport and storage; Petrol stations should only have a LOHC withdrawal system and a small hydrogen storage facility.
Green hydrogen for Central Europe
The most important environmental plus point arises among other things. The production of hydrogen by electrolysis – when electricity is supplied, water splits into hydrogen and oxygen – is very energy efficient. “From an environmental point of view, you have to ask yourself where the bulk of the electricity you need comes from,” says Leather. Answer: From renewable energy sources. Unlike Germany, which is relatively low in wind and sun, other areas offer better conditions here. So it would be imaginary to have hydrogen production in Spain or on the African continent (keyword: solar energy), stored on a chemically bonded H2 site and eventually transported to Central Europe for end-user, even with fuel cell trucks in the future.
Under the circumstances, LOHC can make the most of its cost advantage, which arises when hydrogen is stored and transported over long distances above all else – which is cheaper than conventional H2 storage and transportation with less (safety) technical effort.
Rotating from university
Daniel Deachman, 37, president of Hydrogenius, already holds the title of Hydrogen Storage as part of his PhD at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlong-Nornberg (FAU). Leaving the university, Teachman and several professors founded Hydrogenius LOHC Technologies GmbH in 2013, where the process was further developed, commercialized and marketed. Teachman won the German Business Innovation Prize for its technology and was awarded the Innovation Radar Prize in 2020.
Andreas Vos, head of corporate communications at Air Liquid, the French manufacturer of technological gases, says, “Everyone is talking about LOHC. Technology is something you really should” kindly look at. ” With the LOHC process, two of these take place: once the hydrogen is poured into the oil, it is then expelled.
Marco Letter responded that the heat generated during the chemical bonding of hydrogen could be used wisely at the site. Concrete starting points are currently being prepared. Other options for long-distance transport of hydrogen are currently being considered. For example, people are thinking about redistributing natural gas pipes accordingly.
Already in use
While this is still a long way off, the LOHC process is already in use. In early 2016, as part of a financial plan, a LOHC issuance system was awarded to Franhofer in Stuttgart, where the released hydrogen fuel cell was converted back into electricity, in order to finally charge electric cars in a parking garage. An American company that produces hydrogen as an industrial by-product also uses LOHC technology. Stored hydrogen is used by customers elsewhere. An H2 filling station is under construction in Finland, providing hydrogenated systems. A filling station powered by H2 Mobility is to be built in Erlangen in the first half of 2021, which will be supplied with hydrogenous “green” hydrogen – produced by internal electrolysis with electricity supplied by a photovoltaic system on the roof. At the filling station, hydrogen is stored in underground tanks to save space.
The Erlangan-based company is looking for important customers in the chemical industry, but also in the steel industry, which wants to become a climate-friendly energy carrier with green hydrogen. The automotive industry is already showing interest: Korean manufacturer Hyundai joined Hydrogenius LOHC in May 2020.