H2Giga: Mass Production of Electrolyzers

At a glance

  • in order to cover Germany´s future demand of green hydrogen, efficient, durable, robust, cheap and scalable electrolyzers are needed
  • automized manufacturing of electrolyzers which are suitable for specific operation purposes is necessary
  • for PEM, AEL and high-temperature electrolysis
  • efficient manufacturing processes which cover also recycling opportunities and aspects of a flexible electrolysis operation will be developed


The challenge

It is still not possible to foresee exactly how high the demand for green hydrogen in Germany will be in the future, but it is sure to amount to hundreds of millions of metric tons of hydrogen each year. The goal of the German National Hydrogen Strategy is get 5 gigawatts of electrolysis capacity ready for use by 2030 in Germany alone – the new coalition agreement has increased the expansion target to 10 GW.

This requires efficient, long-lasting, robust, cost-effective, and scalable electrolyzers. Serial-produced electrolyzers are also required to render green hydrogen competitive.


The solution

The H2Giga flagship project is therefore dedicated to the development of serial production of electrolyzers – and that for a range of technologies. Together, established electrolyzer manufacturers, suppliers from different technology sectors, including many small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), as well as research institutes and universities are striving to advance existing electrolysis technologies. The following technologies should then be ready for the conveyor belt:

  • PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) electrolysis
  • Alkaline electrolysis (AEL)
  • High-temperature electrolysis (HTE)

In addition, electrolysis with an anion exchange membrane (AEM) should also be further developed on the research side.

The common denominator of all of these methods is that they employ renewable energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen – the difference between the processes lies in how this is achieved.

The different types of electrolyzers are each particularly suitable for special areas of application. Consequently, the development and scaling of the individual technologies is coordinated with the sectors where they will ultimately be employed. In addition, the flagship project should ensure continuous exchange between business, applied research, and basic research, with the business sector communicating its needs and knowledge gaps to the research sector.


The added value

In this way, efficient production procedures should be developed promptly which also take aspects such as recycling and flexible operation into consideration. Flexible means that electrolyzers can be switched on and off as quickly as possible and that they can be run at different performance levels.

In addition, an innovation pool should also guarantee that H2Giga does not lose its innovative capacity even in the future. Furthermore, the flagship project will ensure training and continued professional development (CPD) opportunities, and thus also create a large number of jobs in the future.

Brief description of the FHRY joint project:
This project will address the development of innovative, highly scalable production processes for large-scale serial production of electrolyzers. This should lay the foundations for cost-optimized industrial production of water electrolyzers. Fraunhofer IWES – in close cooperation with Fraunhofer IMWS – is focusing on quality assurance through characterization of electrolyzer components and stacks.

The aim is the early identification of weaknesses and defects which occur during the industrial employment of electrolyzers. Analysis of the causes of errors and their tracing back to production processes should make it possible to reduce costs for test procedures, optimize the error tolerances of production elements, and make elements ready for use more quickly.

The overall goal is to increase the cost-efficiency of production and extend the system service life by identifying relevant microstructural defects and analyzing the influence on (long-term) performance as well as the development of suitable concepts for their cost-effective avoidance or minimization.

Brief description of the StacIE joint project:
The primary project objective is the industrialization of the electrolyzer stack production at cell component and stack level. This will be achieved by means of a concept that is suitable for industrialization and close to the product, an improvement in the technical and economic characteristics of the cell components, and the development of industrial production processes. The identification, evaluation, and further development of new materials and material combinations as well as the production processes required for this represent essential research steps in this respect.

Fraunhofer IWES supports Fraunhofer IMWS in the project with its expertise in the fields of systematic, electrochemical evaluation and modeling from different disciplines in order to contribute to the evaluation of active materials and catalyst-coated membranes, in particular for the identification of relevant degradation mechanisms.

More information: https://www.wasserstoff-leitprojekte.de/

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