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Rolls-Royce shows intent for zero emmisons future

Hydrogen is the fuel of the future, but where will it come from? - Rolls-Royce is backing electrolysis and investing in Hoeller Electrolyzer…

Hydrogen is one of the most promising options on the road to zero carbon emissions in the superyacht industry. Many engine manufacturers are investing in divergent technologies, with increasing urgency. In a major development and statement of intent, Rolls-Royce is entering the hydrogen production market and acquiring a 54% majority stake in electrolysis stack specialist Hoeller Electrolyzer, whose technology will form the basis of a new range of mtu electrolyzer products from its Power Systems division. 

 Dr Otto Preiss, COO of Rolls-Royce's Power Systems Division (left) and Armin Fürderer (second from left), climate-neutral solutions at Rolls-Royce Power Systems. Stefan Höller (right), company founder and head of development, and Matthias Kramer (second from right) jointly head Hoeller Electrolyzer.

Hoeller Electrolyzer, based in Wismar, Germany, is an early-stage technology company that is developing efficient polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) stacks, under the brand name Prometheus, for the cost-effective production of hydrogen. Hydrogen has long been touted as the most viable solution, but its production, distribution and storage have presented significant hurdles to its application across the sector. 

Green hydrogen, whereby the production process emits no CO2, is the most sustainable option. It is needed for fuel cells and hydrogen engines, for the production of synthetic ‘drop-in’ fuels and for industrial processes that currently use hydrogen that is not created in a carbon-neutral process. Green hydrogen can be produced via electrolyzers, and therefore these systems are a vital part of the process. 

Dr Otto Preiss, COO and Chief Technology Officer, Rolls-Royce Power Systems, said: “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. 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 as and when required, or for further processing or onward sale.” 

In hydrogen electrolysis, water is subjected to DC electrical current, producing hydrogen at the negative pole and oxygen at the positive pole. The key consideration here is that the energy required to drive this process is also renewable, 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. The process is further explained below. 

 

 

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