Hydrogen infrastructure is often seen as the major challenge in establishing a hydrogen-based logistics system. Hydrogen refueling stations are scarce today. There are currently over 110 hydrogen refueling stations (350 bar and 700 bar) in operation in Germany. In comparison, the number of gasoline and diesel refueling stations in Germany is more than 14,000. Setting up a hydrogen refueling station requires considerable investment as well as a value chain for hydrogen supply.
We plan and constructs hydrogen refueling stations in integrated projects with multiple stakeholders, such as refueling station operators, fleet operators, truck manufacturers and eventually also with stakeholders from politics. In these projects, various concepts for the hydrogen refueling station network are first developed for delimited areas or predefined routes and for the vehicle fleet to be refueled. The concepts are developed using our HRS-simulation program developed in cooperation with TLK Energy. The concepts include the distribution, the number as well as the design of the hydrogen refueling stations. Among others, the design includes the hydrogen supply, the storage tanks, the cooling system, and the dispensers. The individual concepts are optimized for different target values, which can be represented, for example, by hydrogen availability, leak tightness, throughput, and costs, respectively. The developed concepts provide the decision basis for the customer to select the most suitable concept according to the requirements of the use case. Once a decision has been made on a concept to be implemented, detailed planning and optimization and the physical construction of the hydrogen refueling stations begin.
In principle we can differentiate three major concepts for a stationary hydrogen refueling station:
Concept one is supplied via pressurized or cryogenic trailers from a more centralized hydrogen production site. Only the compressor, storage, cooling (and perhaps regasification for liquid hydrogen supply) and dispensing and payment system are on site.
Concept two is supplied from a hydrogen pipeline, here the supply pressure is quite constant put mostly a hydrogen purification unit to achieve the required purity for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV)is needed. Otherwise, the required elements are the same.
The third concept uses on-site generation of hydrogen, either from water electrolysis or via reforming of green feedstocks like Biomethane or Bioethanol. Both electrolyzers and reformers are in our solution portfolio as well. Downstream from the production unit the gas is treated to the required purity and the is further processed by the compressing, storing, cooling and dispensing part of the fuel station. Sometimes this type of stations is also abbreviated HPRS (hydrogen production and refueling station).
The concepts 2 and 3 can also be used as trailer filling station points in a so-called Hub and Spoke or Mother & Daughter concept.
All these configurations are included in our own simulation and design software, ensuring that the best fitting concept which meets all the customer’s requirement can be found fast and easily.
The NEA|XPLORE monitoring system is also expanded to the full H(P)RS scope, collecting and sending data for all relevant plant components onto a cloud-based platform. This is the basis for both high availability and also for better planning and optimization of FCEV-fleet operations.
In November 2022, we sold our first Hydrogen Production and Refueling Station (HPRS). Scope includes a PEM-electrolyzer of 300 kW producing hydrogen at 30 bar, NEA|HOFER MKZ diaphragm compressor for 200 and 900 bar, low- and high-pressure storages, a hydrogen dispenser for vehicles refueling, a Generator Set (GenSet) for power re-conversion and complete on-site installation and commissioning services. This turn-key supply will be installed inside UNIFEI University in Brazil for their internal hydrogen mobility demands, in the same state of our office in Belo Horizonte.