Hydrogen Generation for Offshore: Fraunhofer’s Membrane Reactor

Membrane Reactor
Membrane ReactorImage Source: Fraunhofer

Synopsis

At the OEEC 2023, Fraunhofer presented a groundbreaking offshore hydrogen generation method using membrane reactors, promising safer, virtually emission-free shipping. Utilizing methanol-reforming, this technology boasts increased efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. With purity levels surpassing 90%, this method could revolutionize green shipping, offering safer and more efficient alternatives to conventional propulsion systems.

 

Article:

During the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference (OEEC) 2023 in Amsterdam, Mohit Jain from the German Fraunhofer Institute introduced innovative hydrogen generation technology using catalytic ceramic membrane reactors, specifically tailored for offshore applications in the shipping industry.

The technology showcased by Fraunhofer encompasses two key methodologies – electrolyzers and the focal point of the OEEC session: methanol-reforming. Notably, the latter approach eliminates the necessity for large hydrogen storage tanks on ships, considerably enhancing safety standards, as highlighted by Jain. This approach emphasizes the importance of achieving a propulsion system with nearly zero emissions.

One of the distinctive aspects of this technology is its utilization of carbon membranes. Hydrogen produced is directly utilized in the engine, while the resultant CO₂ is converted into a liquefied form. Jain emphasized achieving high hydrogen purity levels, exceeding 90%, with the highest purity measured at 95%.

The environmental impact of this technology is profound, with a reported 97% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a substantial 45% increase in efficiency compared to traditional CO₂ capturing methods.

Jain underscored the significant advantage of methanol's higher energy density, reducing the required size of on-board tanks by half compared to liquid hydrogen. Additionally, this approach is regarded as safer and less corrosive than alternatives like ammonia.

The membrane reactor's uniqueness lies in its ability to conduct the separation process internally, ensuring an efficient and streamlined hydrogen generation process.

Concluding the session at OEEC, Jain expressed optimism about the potential of this technology, foreseeing revolutionary impacts in the next few years with increased funding and development. Fraunhofer's collaborative efforts with MUW, the German manufacturer, led to the design and construction of these groundbreaking reactors.

In summary, Fraunhofer's membrane reactor technology presents a transformative pathway for offshore hydrogen generation, offering safer, more efficient, and environmentally friendly alternatives for the maritime industry's propulsion systems.

Conclusion:

Fraunhofer's pioneering membrane reactor technology marks a significant step toward safer and more sustainable offshore hydrogen generation. This breakthrough holds the promise of revolutionizing green shipping, providing a propulsion system with significantly reduced emissions and increased efficiency. With ongoing development and potential funding, this innovative approach could steer the maritime industry toward a more environmentally conscious and efficient future.

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