Bosch to Develop Components for Hydrogen Electrolysis.
Bosch has announced that it will begin the development of components for electrolyzers, which use electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Ideally, the electricity is generated from renewable sources and known as “green hydrogen”.
“We cannot afford to delay climate action any longer, so we aim to use Bosch technology to support the rapid expansion of hydrogen production in Europe,” said Dr. Stefan Hartung, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH, at the presentation of the company’s annual figures . “To do this, we will leverage our know-how in fuel-cell technology,” added Dr. Markus Heyn, chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector.
Bosch will assign the development of electrolyzer components to the Mobility Solutions business sector, investing up to 500 million euros in this venture by the end of the decade. In light of energy diversification, the move away from fossil fuels, and the need to reduce CO2 emissions, demand for green hydrogen is proliferating – not only in energy-intensive industries such as steel, chemicals, and heavy-duty freight, but also in private real estate.
According to the EU, demand is set to rise to some ten million metric tons a year by 2030. Bosch forecasts that the global market for electrolyzer components will increase to around 14 billion euros over the same period, with Europe set to see the highest growth rates. To help business and society reduce dependency on fossil fuels and harness new forms of energy, Bosch intends to invest some three billion euros in climate-neutral technology, such as electrification and hydrogen, over the next three years.
Bosch is to develop the stack – the core component of an electrolyzer
As in the fuel cell, the key component of an electrolyzer is a stack, which comprises several hundred individual cells connected in series. In each of these cells, electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This is the reverse of what takes place in a fuel cell, where electricity is generated by combining hydrogen and oxygen. In both cases, the chemical reaction is facilitated by means of a proton-exchange membrane (PEM). Bosch is collaborating with a number of partners to develop a way of combining the electrolyzer stack with a control unit, power electronics, and various sensors to create a “smart module”. With pilot plants scheduled to commence operation in the coming year, the company plans to supply these smart modules to manufacturers of electrolysis plants and industrial service providers from 2025 onward.
Using a simple process, Bosch will incorporate a number of these compact modules. They can then be used both in smaller units with capacity of up to ten megawatts and in gigawatt-rated onshore and offshore plants – whether in new-build projects or in existing plants for conversion to the production of green hydrogen. To maximize the efficiency of hydrogen production and extend the service life of the stack, the smart modules are to be connected to the Bosch cloud.
Unlike many of the electrolyzer components currently on the market, the Bosch smart modules will be mass produced. As such, the manufacturing operation will generate economies of scale. “Two key factors are speed and cost involved in ramping up hydrogen production,” Heyn said. “This is where we can play to our strengths, thanks to our mass production expertise and automotive know-how.” Bosch is now planning to start volume production as quickly as possible at several European locations. These include Bamberg and Feuerbach (Germany), Tilburg (Netherlands), Linz (Austria), and České Budějovice (Czech Republic).
The ongoing transformation of the automotive sector presents a huge challenge for the industry as a whole. As ever, Bosch says its response here is to innovate. In entering a new field of business – one that will add a nonautomotive wing to its mobility solutions business – the company is seizing the opportunity to safeguard employment further. This expansion into electrolyzer components is expected to create work for hundreds of associates in the coming years. “In fact, we’re doing three things at once,” Heyn said. “We’re making an important contribution ecologically, economically, and socially.”