Fraunhofer electrolysis platform Leuna ELP

The Fraunhofer Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes CBP and the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructures of Materials and Systems IMWS in Halle are jointly breaking new ground in the sustainable production of hydrogen and its use.

With a unique research unit, the electrolysis test and trial platform ELP at the Leuna chemical site, innovative technologies for the production of "green" hydrogen and its use in sustainable synthesis processes (e.g. for the conversion of carbon dioxide in platform chemicals and fuels) are to be linked in future with an excellent infrastructure of gas pipelines and gas storage facilities.

Generation of "green" hydrogen with excess electricity

Using renewable energies, water is split into "green" hydrogen and oxygen. This technology is a major impetus for the energy turnaround and for a sustainable supply of raw materials for the chemical industry in Central Germany, which requires around 100,000 standard cubic meters of hydrogen per hour. This is currently obtained from the processing of natural gas.

The ELP is intended to prepare the site for the industrial implementation of these processes and to serve the further development of electrolyzers or synthesis processes. The researchers are particularly interested in mapping real operating conditions, which then provide application-oriented engineering data for design and cost estimation. If the green hydrogen project succeeds, not only is the sustainable supply of raw materials for companies secured, but the increasing share of regional surplus electricity is also utilized in a value-added manner.

Scaling of electrochemical processes

Fraunhofer CBP brings to the partnership its many years of expertise in the operation of pilot and demonstration plants and is expanding its infrastructure and expertise in the field of chemical process engineering for the production of chemicals from renewable resources. As branch of the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology, the ELP now also provides the possibility to scale up developments of Fraunhofer IGB at the Stuttgart site and the BioCat branch of IGB in Straubing to new electrochemical processes and prepare for industrial implementation.  

For several years now, Fraunhofer CBP has been involved in numerous national and international research activities with its expertise in the field of hydrogen utilization and chemical conversion. Currently, the entire value-added chain from synthesis gas production from H2O, renewable energy and CO2 to the chemocatalytic production of fuels and application tests of these fuels in cars and trucks is being investigated in the BMWi-funded joint project SynLink and demonstrated at Fraunhofer CBP and ELP.

"With the electrolysis platform, we are creating the first fully integrated electrolysis plant in a chemical power grid in Germany. This enables the systemic testing of electrolysers up to an initial 5 megawatts with direct pipeline feed into the pipeline system of our cooperation partner Linde. [...]" said Prof. Ralf B. Wehrsporn, former Director of Fraunhofer IMWS, now heading the Fraunhofer Hydrogen Network.

Gerd Unkelbach adds: "As an open technology and scaling platform for the production of basic chemicals from green hydrogen, we are creating a unique selling point with national and international relevance and visibility".

Reference projects

SynLink – Synthetic e-fuels as key enabler for sector linking

The subject of the project is the production of renewable fuels such as methanol and long‑chain hydrocarbons or alcohols. The entire value chain from the production of synthesis gas from renewable electrical energy and CO2 with subsequent chemocatalytic conversion to the fuels to application tests in passenger cars and trucks will be investigated technically and economically and demonstrated in TLR 5‑6.