The liquid carrier
A process developed by the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg makes it possible to store and transport hydrogen safely and easily. By 2022, it will be tested in everyday operation at Jülich.
Hydrogen leaving the electolyser is a colourless and odourless gas, lighter than air. But what to do with it? It must be stored and transported before it can be used at a later date or in another place. Lest it take up too much space, it is usually compressed and stored in pressure vessels, underground in salt caverns or cooled to below minus 240 °C so that the hydrogen becomes liquid. There is an alternative, however: the so-called LOHC technology. In a chemical reactor, hydrogen is bound to a diesel-like and flame-retardant organic carrier liquid, the Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier, or LOHC for short.
In the same reactor, the hydrogen can be split off again as soon as it is later needed for power generation or for fuelling fuel cell vehicles. Bonded to the LOHC, the hydrogen can not only be safely stored at atmospheric conditions in classic steel tanks, but can also be transported in classic tank trucks, tank wagons or tank ships. The technology is based on research work carried out by a team led by Prof. Peter Wasserscheid at the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg, a part of Forschungszentrum Jülich.
At the Jülich research site, an LOHC facility that is unique in the world will be tested in daily operation by 2022. It will become part of the “Living Lab Energy Campus”, a real laboratory for future energy systems at the Jülich research campus. The LOHC facility will be coupled to a combined heat and power plant and use the waste heat generated there to release the hydrogen from the carrier liquid. The hydrogen storage process, in turn, releases heat which flows into Forschungszentrum Jülich’s local heating network.
© Illustrations: Seitenplan