Professor Armin Willingmann, Minister of Science of Saxony-Anhalt, and Professor Reimund Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, officially handed over the Hydrogen Lab Leuna (HLL) building in the former central German mining region to the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems IWES. In addition, Professor Willingmann presented the funding notification for the Hydrogen Competence Hub structural change project, which will create a central hub for education and training.
The Hydrogen Lab in Leuna will enable the Fraunhofer IWES to carry out innovative research and development activities relating to the production and use of green hydrogen in the chemical industry. Green hydrogen is a key raw material for the chemical industry and for achieving climate targets. Defossilization, in other words, the changeover to green hydrogen along the entire process chain, is essential.
"The Hydrogen Lab in Leuna will accelerate the urgently needed expansion in the market for hydrogen technologies in Saxony-Anhalt and beyond. The highly innovative research facility will make a significant contribution to Saxony-Anhalt’s ability to become a new powerhouse of the sustainable hydrogen economy. The development of the hydrogen economy is also an important factor in the success of the structural change in the region. By funding the Hydrogen Competence Hub education and training project, we are also actively working with Merseburg University of Applied Sciences, Otto von Guericke University and Anhalt University of Applied Sciences to combat the shortage of specialist staff and managers," explained Willingmann. This will attract not only regional companies but also international project partners and industrial customers to Leuna.
"With the building of the chemical and hydrogen hub in Leuna, which has already proved to be a flourishing nucleus for successful cooperation between science and industry over several years, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is demonstrating efficient ways of achieving not only the energy transition, but also successful structural change in the former central German mining region. As one of three Fraunhofer Hydrogen Labs across Germany, the Hydrogen Lab Leuna will focus on research along the hydrogen production value chain. The green hydrogen that is produced will be analyzed and processed on site and fed directly into the 157-kilometer-long hydrogen pipeline where it will be distributed to other industrial sites in the region and used in chemical processes. The new Hydrogen Competence Hub will also address a fundamental challenge that affects all Germany's former mining regions: a shortage of skilled workers and managers. Here too, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is making an important contribution to structural change through education and training," explained Professor Neugebauer, President of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.
The construction of the pilot plant needed for the research work at the HLL has been completed. The interior of the pilot plant is currently being equipped with the necessary lab facilities and equipment, which did not form part of the HLL construction project. "We are delighted that we can officially take over the HLL and now have a facility where we can develop our extensive test infrastructure. However, we are already using the full capacity of the pilot plant, so we now have to start thinking about expansion measures. The scientific work on the first projects has also already begun, and we are working toward the creation of a sustainable hydrogen economy in the Leuna Chemical Park, which we will actively support with our research. In this context, we would like to express our gratitude for the funding notification for the Hydrogen Competence Hub, where we are working with the universities in the region to develop and maintain the skilled workforce that is urgently needed here. One of the aims of the hub is to make it easier to move between vocational and scientific education courses so that we can meet the needs of industry quickly by enabling employees to acquire additional qualifications," added Dr. Sylvia Schattauer, Acting Director of the Fraunhofer IWES.
Hydrogen Lab Leuna
In the central German Chemical Triangle, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is making available a new generation of test infrastructure facilities for hydrogen technologies at the HLL, which has been financed by Saxony-Anhalt and the EU. The combination of methodological expertise and a unique research infrastructure results in a sustainable, shared business model and an innovative cooperation platform for industry and research. The HLL forms part of the materials network of the Chemical Park Leuna and boasts four test benches and a pilot plant for electrolyzers with a capacity of up to 5 megawatts (MW), which are supplied with deionized water, steam, compressed air, nitrogen, hydrogen and, in the future, also with CO2. The green hydrogen that is produced will be analyzed and processed on site and fed directly into the 157-kilometer-long hydrogen pipeline where it will be distributed to other industrial sites in the region and used in chemical processes. The Fraunhofer IWES is the owner and operator of the infrastructure at the HLL.
A total of 8 million euros of funding has been provided by the Saxony-Anhalt Ministry of Science and the EU for the construction of the Hydrogen Lab Leuna. The cost of building the lab amounted to more than 10 million euros, plus the project funding for the test infrastructure.
Hydrogen Competence Hub education and training project
In the coming year, not one but two STARK projects will be launched. In cooperation with Merseburg University of Applied Sciences, Otto von Guericke University and Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, work will begin in February 2023 on a two-year project to develop a central hub for education and training. The focus is on establishing a regional education network, but the universities will also set up their own courses. The aim is to boost the region’s competencies in the field of digital hydrogen technologies and promote an increased transfer between vocational and scientific education. Enabling employees to obtain additional qualifications will allow industry to meet its staffing needs quickly. This urgently needed project has been granted funding of 2.5 million euros by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) from the funding guideline for strengthening the transformational dynamics and the new beginnings in Germany's former mining regions and on the sites of coal-fired power plants (STARK).
House of Transfer project
The second project, House of Transfer, has set itself the objective of linking together the existing activities in the region as a central contact point for stakeholders from the chemical, bioeconomy, plastics and hydrogen sectors. Here technology providers will be brought together with industrial requirements, project ideas with investors, and start-ups with experienced players. The result will be the creation of a comprehensive range of consultancy and other services. On September 28, 2022, the House of Transfer project received notification of funding of 4.6 million euros and work on the project will begin in January 2023.