The hydrogen electrolysis plant in Linz will be the world's largest and most effective of its type. Here research will be undertaken into the suitability of proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology for industrial-scale application.
At the voestalpine site in Linz, close to the Group’s own power plant, the world’s largest PEM pilot facility, or electrolyser, is being built. The PEM electrolysis process developed by Siemens uses electricity to break water down into its constituent parts, oxygen and hydrogen. Although relatively new, this technology is extremely promising. Several PEM projects have been started around the globe, and the largest plant to date is based in Mainz.
Latest PEM technology:
The latest PEM technology will now be used in Linz, initially in the form of 12 PEM modules with a total capacity of 6 megawatts. In future they will be able to produce 1,200 m3 of hydrogen an hour, a level currently unmatched. The hydrogen produced is also “green”, i.e. CO2-free, because, thanks to VERBUND, the electricity used for electrolysis is generated from renewable sources (hydropower and wind).
Hydrogen for steel production
The hydrogen produced by electrolysis will be fed into the voestalpine coking gas network–the constituents of coking gas include hydrogen and methane. voestalpine’s long-term research strives to gradually replace carbon with hydrogen in metallurgy, i.e. to use completely new manufacturing processes. The sufficient availability of “green” hydrogen and the ability to use it on an industrial scale are key research objectives of H2FUTURE, and then testing hydrogen’s suitability for use in the various process stages of steel production and making it possible to realize breakthrough technologies over the long term.
Hydrogen for the energy future
Moreover, research will also focus on the potential use of hydrogen in the power reserve markets. The expansion of renewables and the greater volatility this brings faces tomorrow’s power generation with the major challenge of drawing excess electricity generated from wind and solar power from the grid, and feeding it back in when required. The PEM plant in Linz is extremely quick to react, providing the technological prerequisites for mastering this challenge: it can be turned on with no preheating phase, and then turned off again at the push of a button.