German steelmaker Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH (Salzgitter) has taken delivery of the world’s largest high-temperature electrolyser (HTE), which is designed to produce energy-efficient hydrogen.

The equipment was delivered to Salzgitter by Sunfire GmbH, a company that develops and manufactures systems for renewable industry gas and fuel production.

Sunfire’s HTE system has a rated electrical output of 720kW and its installation at Salzgitter Flachstahl represents its first deployment in an industrial environment. It will be in operation for at least 13,000 hours by the end of 2022 and will produce at least 100 tonnes of green hydrogen from renewable electricity.

The development of Sunfire’s HTE and its delivery to Salzgitter is all part of the GrlnHy2.0 project, which is a collaborative venture between partners Sunfire GmbH, Paul Wurth S.A., Tenova SpA, French research centre CEA and Salzgitter Mannesmann Forschung GmbH. The aim of the EUR5.5 million project has been to develop the world’s most powerful Steam Electrolyser (StE) for the energy-efficient production of hydrogen.

Tenova’s role in GrInHy2.0 is to assist in bringing about green hydrogen-based steel production using its ENERGIRON-ZR direct reduction technology, jointly developed by Tenova and Danieli, which offers an integrated CO2 absorption system and is ready to use up to 100% hydrogen. The technology was jointly developed by Tenova and Danieli.

Tenova’s Markus Dorndorf, the company’s iron and steelmaking business development director (vacuum degassing) commented: "Our co-operation with Salzgitter and Sunfire could lead to a revolution in the European steel industry. Our extensive know-how and experience of the new process route DRP-EAF – that we have been optimizing for years with the goal to minimize the carbon footprint – together with innovative hydrogen production solutions form the ideal combination to achieve the sustainable transformation of the steel industry”.

Nils Aldag, Sunfire GmbH’s managing director, said that the steel industry was intensively developing new and low-CO2 production routes. “We are pleased to participate in this together with our partners. The technology is ready for hydrogen production on an industrial scale, and we are ready to significantly increase our production capacity for this purpose", he said.

Benedikt Ritterbach, managing director of Salzgitter Mannesmann Forschung GmbH and responsible for R&D in the Salzgitter Group, commented: “GrInHy2.0 will provide us with further findings in the industrial demonstration operation of a high-temperature electrolyzer. By integrating this world's most powerful plant into large-scale industrial processes, we are breaking new ground in energy-efficient hydrogen production.”