Producing Green Hydrogen From Biogas


BioH2Ref research project to test clean hydrogen production using the steam reforming process on a farm in Krefeld, Germany


Hydrogen is considered a key raw material to enable the energy transition. However, only so-called green hydrogen, that is, CO2-free hydrogen produced on the basis of renewable energies, is indeed sustainable. As part of the BioH2Ref project, the Department for Industrial Furnaces and Heat Engineering at RWTH Aachen University, BtX energy GmbH, and entrepreneur Werner Schleupen are undertaking research on how green hydrogen can be produced on a farm using manure and residual materials. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection is funding the consortium project with around 1.3 million euros.

The project aims to build, operate and test a pilot plant at Leskehof utilizing a direct, decentralized steam reforming production process. The innovative technology aims to prevent greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture by reducing methane emissions. The hydrogen produced in the process can then be used to contribute to a zero-emission transportation system or a zero-emission industry, for example.

Production is not dependent on weather conditions and can be taken up anywhere where agriculture is practiced. Local structures are strengthened by regional value chains and material cycles, and initial calculations show that the production plants can be operated economically. All this makes the technology an exciting source of energy that can be used, for example, to power buses for inner-city service. The aim is to produce around 100 kilograms of green hydrogen per day from January 2023. This would be sufficient to power five buses for local transportation in a city like Aachen.

Researchers at the Institute for Industrial Furnace Construction and Thermal Engineering headed by Professor Herbert Pfeifer have calculated the production capacity of all such plants existing in Germany. They found that all plants taken together could power the entire truck traffic in Germany. By 2030, the government of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia seeks to deploy 11,000 fuel cell trucks, 1,000 fuel cell refuse collection vehicles, and 3,800 fuel cell buses powered by hydrogen. Furthermore, the government intends to build 200 hydrogen filling stations throughout the state.