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Sunfire supplies steam electrolysis module to Salzgitter Flachstahl

Sunfire GmbH has announced that it has supplied a steam electrolysis module (SOEC) for hydrogen production to Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH as part of the Horizon 2020 project ‘Green Industrial Hydrogen via reversible high-temperature electrolysis’ (GrInHy). With an input electric power of 150 kW the module produces 40 Nm³ per hour of hydrogen. It can also be reversed into fuel cell mode with an output power of 30 kWe.

A 150 kWe steam electrolysis (SOEC) for hydrogen production has been supplied to Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH as part of the EU Horizon 2020 GrInHy project (photo courtesy Sunfire).

Sunfire GmbH, a Germany-based developer and manufacturer of high-temperature electrolysers (SOEC) and high-temperature fuel cells (SOFC) has announced that it has supplied “the world’s most efficient steam electrolysis module (SOEC)” for hydrogen (H2) production to German steel producer Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH. The delivery, which took place in June 2017, is part of the Horizon 2020 project ‘Green Industrial Hydrogen via reversible high-temperature electrolysis’ (GrInHy).

With an input electric power of 150 kW the SOEC module produces 40 Nm³ per hour of hydrogen. It can also be reversed into fuel cell mode with an output power of 30 kWe. A particular feature of Sunfire technology is the high electrical efficiency of more than 80 percent with reference to the lower calorific value of hydrogen as it is not liquid water but steam – which undergoes the splitting process.

The steam required is provided in the form of waste heat from the processes of the smelting plant at Salzgitter Flachstahl and supplied to the steam electrolysis unit. This is housed in a 20-foot container on the production site. After purification, the crude hydrogen is fed directly into the local H2 pipeline and recycled.

Hydrogen is used in the integrated smelting plant in order to produce a protective gas atmosphere that excludes oxygen preventing the oxidation of steel during the annealing process. The use of green hydrogen improves the environmental balance of the end product by reducing the carbon footprint.

In fuel cell mode, the module can be operated with both hydrogen and natural gas. In demo operation, one of the points being investigated in the GrInHy project is the extent to which the plant can contribute to the provision of grid services such as energy balancing and load management.

The GrInHy project has received support in the context of the European Union “Horizon 2020” programme, which in addition to Salzgitter Flachstahl, BR&T-E and Sunfire includes Salzgitter Mannesmann Forschung GmbH, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, EIFER – European Institute for Energy Research, Institute of Physics of Materials, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and Politecnico di Torino, Italy as partners.

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