Posted on 05 December 2013 by Tom Grimwood
They may not know it but some Germans have been heating their homes using hydrogen, after it was injected into the country’s gas grid for the first time.
It was produced at a power-to-gas plant commissioned by the Thuga Group – a collection of 100 local German utility companies – using a process called electrolysis.
This process essentially works by passing electricity through water to split it into the elements it’s made up of – oxygen and hydrogen.
At the heart of the new plant is a special electrolyser made by UK firm ITM Power which uses 315 kilowatts of power to can produce roughly 60 cubic meters of hydrogen per hour.
Hydrogen made at the plant was mixed with methane before being pumped into the gas distribution network at the city of Frankfurt (pictured). The amount of hydrogen in the mix was limited to 2%.
Thirteen of the Thuga Group’s members have been working together to show the feasibility of using hydrogen in gas networks as a way to store excess energy from intermittent renewables. The companies will invest a total of €1.5 million (£1.24m) in the project, which will run until 2016.
Michael Riechel, Member of the Board of Thuga AG said: “The system worked as planned, so much so that we will go into trial operation in the very near future ahead of final commissioning at the start of 2014.”
Once this first phase is complete a second will be considered, which would see the hydrogen combined with carbon dioxide to form synthetic methane for use in the gas network.