11 June 2009
Global perspectives: Hydrogen production in Germany
By Cris Whetton
The Linde Group is developing a process for the sustainable production of hydrogen from biogenic raw materials. Hydromotive GmbH, a subsidiary of The Linde Group, is to build a demonstration plant from mid-2009 at the chemical site in Leuna, Germany, which will produce hydrogen from glycerine. The feedstock glycerine is a by-product of biodiesel production, and the company contends the further processing of glycerine makes good sense. “Promising opportunities for the sustainable cost-effective production of hydrogen are presented by the use of biogenic raw materials,” said Aldo Belloni, member of the Executive Board of Linde AG. “With this innovative patented process, we have taken yet another step toward low-emission energy supply using hydrogen.”
The plant, which will reprocess pyrolyse and reform raw glycerine, and will come on stream in mid-2010, will produce a hydrogen-rich gas, which will feed into the existing Leuna II hydrogen plant for the purification and liquefaction of the hydrogen, originally intended to supply nearby refineries and other plants. The green liquefied hydrogen produced there will see use in German cities such as Berlin and Hamburg where they use hydrogen as a fuel. As a result of its high hydrogen content, raw glycerine, which arises in the course of biodiesel manufacture, is perfect for the production of hydrogen. The potential benefit of biomass (per hectare) is much more of a benefit with the conversion of glycerine into hydrogen for the production of fuel. Biogenically produced glycerine will not be in competition with food production and is available year round.
Also in Leuna, Total’s refinery in Leuna—Total Raffinerie Mitteldeutschland GmbH—has erected a major 100 metric ton section of the new desulphurization unit. It cost $168 million (€120 million) and will, as planned, come into operation this fall. “This is currently the largest investment to be realized at the Leuna chemical site, and for us, the first new installation since the commissioning of the refinery in the autumn of 1997,” said Olaf Wagner, representative for the refinery. The new desulphurization section, whose construction began in early 2008, will have an annual capacity of 1 million metric tons.
Meanwhile, new production units at Bosnia’s Modrica oil refinery officially opened, increasing the output of the plant by 500%. The re-start of processing at the Bosanski Brod refinery, the other part of the Republica Srpska oil industry purchased by Zarubezneft, the Russian state-owned oil company, in 2007, has already improved industrial production in the Republica Srpska over the past few months.
Cris Whetton is InTech’s European correspondent.