Rolls-Royce is entering the hydrogen production market as it takes another step forward in the drive to improve sustainability of the aviation industry.

The company is acquiring a 54 per cent majority stake in electrolysis stack specialist Hoeller Electrolyzer, whose innovative technology will form the basis of a new range of mtu electrolyser products.

Green fuel

Hydrogen is an increasingly attractive power source to fuel the green energy transition and demand for ‘green’ hydrogen – which creates no CO2 – is expected to rise significantly.

It is needed for fuel cells and hydrogen engines, as well as for the production of synthetic ‘drop-in’ fuels, and high-performance electrolysers are a key component of any hydrogen system.

German engineering

Hoeller Electrolyzer, based in northern Germany, is an early-stage technology company that is developing highly efficient polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) stacks, under the brand name Prometheus, for the production of hydrogen.

Dr Otto Preiss, COO and Chief Technology Officer, Rolls-Royce Power Systems, said: “By developing our own mtu electrolysers and by taking a majority stake in Hoeller Electrolysers, we are methodically growing our hydrogen portfolio and securing access to this fascinating technology, which is not a pipe dream but has great market potential.

“This will enable us to supply complete hydrogen solutions and make a significant contribution to protecting the climate. Our complete hydrogen solutions will enable customers to store renewably produced energy in the form of hydrogen for use as and when required, or for further processing or onward sale.”

‘Price not thought possible’

Stefan Höller, Managing Director, Hoeller Electrolyzer, said: “Our stack is going to produce hydrogen at a price not previously thought possible.”

Matthias Kramer, CFO and Joint Managing Director, Hoeller Electrolyzer, added: “In Rolls-Royce, not only have we found an important customer for our stacks, we’ve also secured an ideal partner and supporter who shares our vision of putting stacks into full production.”

Work underway

Development work on the first mtu electrolyser using a stack from Hoeller Electrolyzer is already underway, Rolls Royce said.

In 2023, it will go into operation at the validation centre in Friedrichshafen to demonstrate how an electrolyser fits into the overall architecture of a microgrid. An initial customer project is planned for 2024.

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