As the world looks for alternatives to fossil fuels, hydrogen is rapidly establishing itself as a core component of a greener, cleaner future. It offers the opportunity to store energy obtained from natural sources and can be used to provide emission-free fuel cells for powering vehicles. When added to natural gas, it can also help to decarbonise industrial processes.
But there’s a problem. Although it is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe, pure hydrogen does not occur naturally on Earth in large quantities and therefore needs to be separated from other elements. Currently around 95 percent of our hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels using processes that release carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
The clean solution is ‘green hydrogen’, which is produced by electrolysis, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable electricity and producing no greenhouse gases. One of the leaders in this field is H-Tec Systems (part of MAN Energy Solutions), a company based in Augsburg, Germany, which develops and manufactures electrolysers specifically designed for the production of green hydrogen.
H-Tec’s technology can be seen in action at the eFarm hydrogen mobility project in the North Frisia district of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. Here, an array of giant wind turbines creates electricity, which is converted into hydrogen by five H-Tec electrolysers. The hydrogen is then pressurised and transported to hydrogen filling stations to provide fuel for fuel cell buses, trucks and cars.
The electrolysis process also creates waste heat, and at the eFarm some of this heat is diverted into the regional heating grid for industry and private households. However, depending on the location of an electrolyser, this option is not always available. Even when it is, there is still excess heat that needs to be released in order for the electrolysis process to be kept cool and stable. For this reason, all of H-Tec’s electrolysers have Güntner Dry Coolers as part of their cooling system mounted on their roofs. These include Flat COMPACT Dry Coolers, Flat VARIO Dry Coolers and V-shape VARIO Dry Coolers.
“The challenge was to define an energy-efficient concept that would bring the full benefit of cost-saving during plant operation to the end-user. The combination of the Güntner Dry Coolers’ EC Fan technology with our GMMnext smart control system was a perfect fit for that requirement and is now a standard for H-Tec.”
EPC TECHNICAL SALES REPRESENTATIVE, GÜNTNER
The GMMnext control system ensures sustainable operation of the Dry Coolers on the heat dissipation side, using a multitude of intelligent functions. Its benefits extend beyond simply minimising energy consumption. Every night it initiates a cleaning run, which removes any dust from the heat exchanger coil, thus avoiding any added unnecessary power use. It can also limit noise emissions, especially at night.
“The Güntner Dry Cooler is an integral and necessary part of our electrolysers, and it’s very easy to install. All the dry coolers have the same measurements, so we can plan a series of electrolysers and know that they will fit, it’s just plug and play.”
DEVELOPMENT ENGINEER, H-TEC
Linder expects H-Tec to keep growing and to make ever larger electrolysers. In March, 2022, MAN Energy Solutions announced that it would be investing up to 500 million euros in the company. MAN expects that over the next five to ten years, hydrogen will become one of the most important primary energy sources for the global economy as it continues to decarbonise.
“We’re proud to work with partners like H-Tec on the development of hydrogen infrastructure, as this reflects our responsibility as a company to future generations. At Güntner we work with the energy sector every day and see at first hand how much progress is being made to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. We’re also delivering dry coolers for biogas and heat pump systems, so we’re very much part of that positive change.” says Manuel Bingiesser, EPC Technical Sales Representative at Güntner.