Federal government supports the industrialization of Sunfire’s hydrogen technologies with 60 million euros
Dresden, January 6, 2022
Electrolysis companies need to rapidly expand their manufacturing capacity to meet rising demand. In preparation for the series production of Sunfire’s SOEC and alkali electrolyzers, the company and its partners from industry and research are receiving funding from the German government.
Because of its potential to decarbonize energy-intensive industries, green hydrogen has quickly gone from being a controversial hopeful to a permanent component of the energy transition. Demand for the gas, which is produced when water is split in electrolysers, is growing correspondingly rapidly. Their installed capacity in the EU is expected to grow from just under 0.2 GW at present to 40 GW by 2030.
Against this background, Sunfire, which is one of the world’s largest developers and producers of electrolyzers, is working at full speed to expand its manufacturing capacity. Together with partners from research and industry, the Dresden-based company is preparing its technologies for industrial production on a gigawatt scale. To this end, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing extensive funding through the flagship project H2Giga.
In particular, the funding commitment accelerates the market ramp-up of innovative high-temperature electrolysers (SOECs). Led by Sunfire, 15 collaborative partners will receive €33 million to build manufacturing processes and optimize systems. By using waste heat from industrial processes, Sunfire’s SOEC electrolysers require up to 30% less electricity from renewable sources to produce one kilogram of hydrogen compared to other technologies. “In the new generation, they will play to their strengths even better than before,” announces Christian von Olshausen.
“Among other things, we will make the individual components more durable and simplify the design of the systems,” the Sunfire CTO continued. “With our optimized high-temperature electrolysers, industry will be able to produce green hydrogen even more efficiently – and consequently more cost-effectively – in the future. To also reduce the purchase price, we are also developing process chains for industrial series production.”
Sunfire is taking the challenging path towards gigawatts with partners who have already worked on various projects in the past. For example, in setting up a pilot line for automated production, the company is relying on the expertise of XENON Automatisierungstechnik GmbH. Together with its Dresden “neighbors”, Sunfire is already building SOEC electrolysers for the refinery of fuel producer Neste in Rotterdam. “We are happy to be able to build on partners like XENON. They have valuable experience in industrial manufacturing and are open to using it to advance new technologies,” explains Christian von Olshausen.
It is not only the development of SOEC technology that receives support. The BMBF is also providing funding for the industrialization of pressure-alkali electrolysers. Although the robust systems have already proven themselves in industry for decades, they have not yet been mass-produced. A total of 27 million euros is available to Sunfire and its eight collaborative partners to bring the production of this technology to gigawatt scale.
“We are setting up manufacturing processes and finalizing the new design of our pressure alkali electrolysers,” explains Christian von Olshausen. “Compared to the previous models, we will once again improve these in terms of energy consumption and durability.” Alkali electrolysis, already known as the most cost-effective electrolysis technology, will thus continue to gain in attractiveness.
To ensure that the industry can make use of green hydrogen in a timely manner, the German government wants to use its commitment to accelerate the development of technologies. With this in mind, the BMBF announced the “Hydrogen Republic of Germany” ideas competition. In the lead project H2Giga, around 30 independent alliances are now working on transferring electrolysis technologies to the gigawatt scale. In addition to subsidies, Sunfire is using its own extensive resources for industrialization.
Network partner SOEC
- ConverterTec Germany GmbH
- DBI Gas -and Environmental Technology GmbH
- DECHEMA Research Institute
- German Aerospace Center e.V. (Institute of Technical Thermodynamics)
- European Institute for Energy Research EIfER
- Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS
- HORIBA FuelCon GmbH
- imk automotive GmbH
- Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Institute for Applied Materials)
- Laboratory for Electron Microscopy)
- KERAFOL Ceramic Films GmbH & Co KG
- Kontron AIS GmbH
- Sunfire (Network Coordinator)
- TU Bergakademie Freiberg (Technical Mechanics – Solid Mechanics)
- University of Bayreuth (Chair of Ceramic Materials)
- XENON Automation Technology GmbH
Joint venture partner Pressure Alkali Electrolysis
- Alantum Europe GmbH
- German Aerospace Center e.V. (Institute for Technical Thermodynamics)
- HAFF Gaskets Ltd.
- imk automotive GmbH
- Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Applied Materials Research IFAM
- Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF
- Frenzelit GmbH
- MTV NT Ltd.
- Sunfire (Network Coordinator)
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