Green hydrogen from slurry and manure

Verbund um BtX energy GmbH puts pilot plant into operation.

Green hydrogen from slurry and manure: The biogas route offers great potential for regional value creation and security of supply. The commissioning and presentation of the pilot plant took place on 28.10.2022.

In October, the association around the newly founded BtX energy GmbH from Hof presents the first commissioned plant for the production of green hydrogen from sustainably produced biogas from the BMWK-funded project "BioH2Ref". On 28.10. the plant was inaugurated on an intermediate site at Naturenergie Glemstal in Hemmingen.

The steam reforming technology used is familiar from the natural gas sector, but here it uses renewable biogas - primarily from residual materials - and is tailored to agricultural operations. The plant produces high-purity hydrogen directly on the farm.

  • For agriculture, a new and promising option is opening up to make an important contribution to the transformation toward CO2-negative mobility. This is particularly true for the use of organic residues such as liquid manure, dung or biowaste.
  • Around 80 % of fermentable residues such as liquid manure and dung in Germany are as yet unused - this potential becomes lucrative through hydrogen production and could already sustainably supply almost a third of domestic heavy goods traffic. The use reduces methane as well as odor emissions, while the fermentation residue still serves as fertilizer.
  • Biogas, as the only continuously occurring renewable energy source, can therefore serve as a crystallization seed for the development of a sustainable, local H2 infrastructure in the short term, which will be integrated into a global hydrogen economy system in the medium and long term.
  • The profitability calculation shows that in the short term and even with small series production of a few units per year, green hydrogen can be produced at competitive costs and viable business models can be developed for all participants in the value chain.

Environmental prize winner Dr.-Ing. J.G. Wünning, initiator of the concept and investor in the demonstration plant, explains the motivation and objective: "I am convinced that regional, decentralized infrastructure solutions are the hallmark of renewable energies and make a decisive contribution to energy security. Core elements of our approach are the use of organic residues, the closing of the CO2 balance, and a fair distribution of profits among all participants in the value chain. I believe this can best be achieved at the regional level."

Before the plant reaches its final destination - a dairy farm in Krefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia - the public presentation took place on October 28 at the advanced biogas plant of Naturenergie Glemstal (Hemmingen, Baden-Württemberg). The farm provides the project with parking space and gas for the first start-up. The turnkey container plant was developed and built by the specialist for small-scale plant construction from the Verbund, e-flox GmbH from Renningen. Particular attention was paid to simple and clearly defined interfaces for retrofitting existing plants. The sophisticated reformer technology of the sister company WS Reformer GmbH is used. New developments in both process and catalyst design are incorporated for use with biogas.

The event was opened by welcoming speeches from Steffen Bilger MdB and Ministerialdirigent Martin Eggstein from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment, as well as a video message from State Secretary Roland Weigert of the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs. After a brief presentation of the project and technology, Dr. Wünning then surprised the visitors as well as the staff of BtX by announcing the procurement of its own hydrogen bus. In the afternoon, Verbund welcomed about 100 interested guests from industry, science and research for a tour followed by a networking and evening event. The guests were transported in style by an emission-free hydrogen bus of Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG, sponsored by the friendly cooperation with H2Swiss Energy.

As part of the publicly funded project "BioH2Ref", BtX-energy GmbH will operate the plant, produce hydrogen for the transport sector from pure manure in everyday operation and, accompanied by RWTH Aachen University, provide scientifically sound data on the efficiency, and environmental balance of this process.

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