ZSW is intensively researching the technology used for the electrochemical generation of hydrogen. This research ranges from the development of advanced plant concepts to the construction and operation of the corresponding test and demonstration plants. ZSW is studying both atmospheric electrolysers and pressure electrolysers. Alkaline water electrolysis (AEL) and polymer electrolyte membrane electrolysis (PEM) technologies are being further developed at the institute, where electrolyser test plants in power ranges of 300 kW (AEL) and 1.8 kW (PEM) are currently in operation.
ZSW’s research and development activities draw on an internally developed strategy that is based on ZSW's own modular concept for a hydrogen generation plant. In addition to the electrolyser, this modular concept also encompasses all auxiliary systems required for operation as well as all downstream systems for gas processing and the application-specific supply of gas and heat to external users. Technical development is currently focused on AEL technology.
As part of its internal research activities, ZSW has analysed different plant concepts, determined the current state of the art and identified the manufacturers of components and subsystems. Furthermore, it has developed a concept for technical implementation in the lower megawatt class. This concept is currently being put into practice in collaboration with external partner companies as part of a development project subsidised by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU). This development project aims to build and test a modular hydrogen generation plant with alkaline pressure electrolysers in a pressure range of 16 – 40 bar. The first test plant is designed for 300 kW and should be able to attain a range above 1 MW.
For more information, see "Water electrolysis".