Fraunhofer IKTS operates the hydrogen application center WaTTh in Thuringia. The project creates a nucleus for the production and application of sustainable and green hydrogen – for the region "Erfurter Kreuz", Thuringia, Germany and beyond. In the course of the worldwide expansion of hydrogen infrastructure for the sustainable design of the energy industry, scale-up is a key concept. Scale-up means not only increasing the active area of electrochemical reactors but also increasing the production volume of assembled units, such as electrochemical stacks (SOE or AEM-EL). Therefore, in addition to automated stack assembly and smart machine and product design, WaTTh also focuses on logistics and data acquisition in terms of industrial data concepts. State-of-the-art in-line and stand-alone analytics for quality control and data mining complement the research focus.
Another goal is the development of fuel cell and other hydrogen technology on a pilot-plant level up to 100 kW. To this end, for example, high-temperature electrolysis cells (SOEC) are being integrated into power-to-X plants. These produce sustainable, CO2-neutral basic materials and fuels via a fully automated co-electrolysis process from CO2 and water. An open-space test field offers the possibility to install application-oriented container solutions for industrial-scale electrolysers and PtX plants.
The WaTTH is also researching technological options for CO2 avoidance in the ceramics and steel industries. In the future, a hydrogen-fueled furnace will be available to customers in order to conduct materials science and process engineering analysis or process optimization in a CO2-neutral manner, for example in the ceramics industry.
- Development of automated assembly concepts for electrolyzers and fuel cell stacks or redox flow batteries with active areas of up to 1 m2
- Development of logistics and IT systems for parts management
- Integration of in-line, sideline and stand-alone analytics
- Analytics for electrochemistry (e.g. impedance spectroscopy) on single cells and stacks
- Plant modification and integration into pilot lines and data structures
- Test field for electrolyzers and power-to-X, including process engineering support, application and industry-oriented setup in 20-foot containers (stand-alone)
- Data acquisition on all levels in the shopfloor (machine, machine network, factory)
- Establishment of ceramic sintering and firing processes in the hydrogen furnace (500 L), parameter studies, conceptual analyses and energy-economical evaluation
Equipment within the framework of the project
- Automated assembly line for electrochemical stack systems (approx. 1 m x 1 m) in different technology variants. Options for the future: SOFC, SOEC, AEL, AEM-EL, AFC, PEM-EL, PEM-FC as well as RFB.
- Four 6-axis industrial robots up to 400 kg load capacity
- Variable transport system
- Wide range of in-line analytics and sensors
- Tracking and tracing, as well as parts picking and traceability
- Integrated PDM system
- Industry 4.0-capable interfaces (OPC-UA)
- Electrochemical analytics
- Impedance-capable potentiostats up to 500 A, over 130 channels
- Electrochemical scanning microscopy (SECM)
- Test cells and test stacks
- Co-electrolysis and power-to-X plant
- Electrolyzer test field (open space with infrastructure)
- Electrical connection
- Media: hydrogen, nitrogen, DI water
- Product post-treatment
- Industrial x-ray CT
- Workstation for FEM simulation
- Hydrogen-fueled furnace with 500 L, exchangeable burner for natural gas comparison studies for ceramic processes