Rolls-Royce is entering the hydrogen production market and acquiring a 54% majority stake in electrolysis stack specialist Hoeller Electrolyzer. The company’s technology will form the basis of a new range of mtu electrolyzer products from Rolls-Royce Power Systems, a division of Rolls-Royce. Hoeller Electrolyzer, based in Wismar, Germany, is an early-stage technology company that is developing highly efficient polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) stacks, under the brand name Prometheus, for the cost-effective production of hydrogen.
“By developing our own mtu electrolyzers and by taking a majority stake in Hoeller Electrolyzers, 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,” said Otto Preiss, COO and chief technology officer of Rolls-Royce Power Systems. “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 or for further processing or onward sale.”
In hydrogen electrolysis, water is subjected to direct current (DC) electrical current, producing hydrogen at the negative pole and oxygen at the positive pole. In this way, it is possible to produce carbon-neutral hydrogen by using electricity from renewable sources such as solar or wind. The electrochemical reaction takes place in a cell between plate-shaped electrodes separated by membranes. Hundreds of cells located one above the other and pressed together form a ‘stack,’ the heart of an electrolyzer.
“We’re going to launch electrolyzers with several megawatts of power right from the start,” said Armin Fürderer, heads of the net-zero solutions business unit of Rolls-Royce Power Systems. “A total output of more than 100 MW is conceivable by combining several electrolyzers.”
Development work on the first mtu electrolyzer using a stack from Hoeller Electrolyzer is already underway. In 2023, it will go into operation at the Validation Center in Friedrichshafen to demonstrate how an electrolyzer fits into the overall architecture of a microgrid. An initial customer project is already planned for 2024.
Financial details of the transaction are not being disclosed. Stefan Höller and Matthias Kramer will continue to lead Hoeller Electrolyzer as a standalone company.