Scandinavian-led projects in the green hydrogen processing sector use digital technologies to reduce production costs.

Stockholm-based IT solutions group Hexagon has partnered with Hydrogen Utility (H2U), one of Australia’s largest hydrogen infrastructure developers, to digitize its green hydrogen plants.

H2U’s strategic partnership with Hexagon combines the Swedish company’s digital reality solutions experience in integrating digital ecosystems in industrial facilities with the Australian Group’s green hydrogen and green ammonia plant projects.

The collaboration aims to provide best-in-class digital asset management to support ongoing technological advances in the so-called global green hydrogen revolution.

The transition to cost-effective green hydrogen production was the catalyst for the unification of Hexagon’s forces with H2U in the digital transformation project, he said. Ola Rollen, CEO of Hexagon.

“Our solutions provide a common environment for managing seamless and effective collaboration in the H2U technology partner ecosystem,” Rollen said.

Hexagon’s digital twin technology includes computer programs that use real-world data to create simulations that can predict how a product or process will perform in an industrial setting.

Importantly, cost-effectiveness can also be measured in the framework of the Digital Twin Framework Process, which supports the development of rapid deployment scenarios needed for green hydrogen to ensure deep decarbonisation in industry and the energy sector.

The hydrogen plant digitization project will commission Hexagon’s PPM department (formerly Intergraph Process, Power & Marine) to enable H2U to integrate its twin digital platform. The platform is designed to manage every stage of the asset’s life cycle – from engineering and design through finance, construction and operation – to improve efficiency and reduce risk.

Ambitious scope

The ambitious scope of the international partnership will see Hexagon’s technology implemented in the planned H2U pipeline by high-quality industrial green hydrogen infrastructure initiatives in Australia and New Zealand.

H2U’s green hydrogen initiatives include the Eyre Peninsula Gateway project in South Australia and the H2-Hub Gladstone project in Queensland.

Meanwhile, in Scandinavian cross-border cooperation, Semcon has joined a Swedish-Norwegian consortium with Hystar to develop new digitally supported electrolytic technology for the production of green sustainable hydrogen.

The industrial consortium, led by Semcon and Hystar, is focused on using digitally supported automation to deliver large-scale production of green sustainable hydrogen based on new electrolytic technology. The main goal is to develop an integrated technological solution that can produce up to 150% more hydrogen without using more energy than conventional processes currently used in industry.

The next stage of the project is focused on finding viable solutions to automate the production of electrolytic stacks that convert electricity into hydrogen and oxygen. These revolutionary methods of mass production are a prerequisite for a revolution in the production of electrolyzers, he said Robert Eliasson, District Production Development Manager at Semcon.

“This is a challenging and important Scandinavian collaboration,” he said. “This ensures that both knowledge and production can be preserved and developed in Sweden and Norway.”

Although hydrogen production technology using polymer electrolytic membrane (PEM) electrolyzers is common and already well developed, advanced development of automatic and flexible stack production processes is needed to achieve large-scale hydrogen production.

“Our collaboration with Semcon will allow us to achieve our goal of producing our cells more profitably, using automation even at high volumes,” said Alejandro Barnett, Chief Technical Officer at Hystar.

The main goal of Semcon’s Hystar project is to use smart digital solutions and engineering to reduce the cost of green hydrogen, said Bente Traa, Hystar’s project manager.

“Hystar’s goal is to develop technology for a greener future. Our Autostack project is a key factor in making it a reality. “

Design concept

The Hystar-Semcon consortium is working to complete the project design concept phase in the third quarter of 2022. The next goal is to test all critical elements in the concept by the third quarter of 2023. The ultimate goal of the project is to have the tested concept fully defined and ready for implementation on an industrial scale by the second quarter of 2024.

The Green Hydrogen Development Project is partly funded by the Research Council of Norway, the state agency responsible for providing grants for innovative schemes.

The potential market demand for green renewable hydrogen, which currently accounts for about 1% of total global consumption of industrial and mobile hydrogen, is expected to grow steadily, if not rapidly, in the coming years.

Nel, the Norwegian-based specialized hydrogen supply group, launched its first digitally supported automated electrolysis plant in Herøya, southwest of Oslo, on April 20, 2022.

Reducing the price of green hydrogen will unlock new areas of application where green hydrogen is the best or only option for decarbonization, said John Andre Locke, CEO of Nel.

“The secret is scaling and automation,” he added. “This will reduce the unit cost of producing electrodes as never before. We are on track to make green hydrogen from renewable sources so cheap or cheaper to produce from hydrogen based on natural gas by 2025.

Nel aims to deliver green sustainable hydrogen at a price of $ 1.50 / kg, a goal that requires a 75% drop in capital costs from today’s level, Løkke said.

“Half of the savings we have to make will come from increasing scale and increasing production efficiency,” he said. “The rest will come from economies of scale and effective industrial partnerships.”

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