Battolyser: innovative technology combines energy storage and hydrogen production in a single battery

The energy transition remains one of the biggest challenges faced in 2022. Numerous parties around the world are working hard to develop new technologies and solutions – including in the Rotterdam region. And one such party is Battolyser. Its innovative technology enables us to maximise wind and solar energy yields with the aid of a special battery that has been integrated with an electrolyser. This electrolyser starts to produce hydrogen once the battery has been charged to full capacity. “Battolyser is based on a unique technology that combines the short-term energy storage and production of hydrogen in a single integrated system.”

Wind, solar and hydrogen: while the link between the three may not be immediately obvious, each of these elements is crucial to the success of the energy transition. There’s no shortage of wind in many countries, and the Netherlands is no exception. Wind farms on land and out on the sea (‘offshore’) are a key source of renewable energy, and we find a strong energy cluster in the Rotterdam region – both in wind and other segments. The Netherlands is less known for its many hours of sunshine. But due to climate change, we can expect a higher annual total in the years ahead. And thanks in part to the fast pace of technological progress, we can capitalise on this development. This will make solar energy an increasingly important part of the Netherlands’ energy mix.

Last but not least, hydrogen. Hydrogen is widely viewed as the most promising replacement for fossil fuels for industrial processes, heating homes and greenhouses, transport and other purposes. When consumed as a fuel, its only emissions are water vapour and hot air. Hydrogen presents a range of advantages, so it’s expected to play a crucial role in addressing global challenges like climate adaptation and the energy transition. Rotterdam is swiftly evolving into a leading European hub for the production, storage and distribution of hydrogen.

Security of supply

What if we had a solution that could both maximise the yield from sustainable energy sources like wind and solar, combined with the considerable benefits offered by hydrogen? This could help ensure security of supply of renewable energy in leaner periods, and feed it back into the grid when there’s a surplus… Battolyser, the world’s first integrated battery and electrolyser, does precisely that. Battolyser’s Operations Manager Diederick Nierstrasz explains what sets this technology apart. “In essence, the Battolyser innovation revives a century-old battery concept, the nickel-iron battery. However, the quirk that caused Thomas Edison to shelve this battery at the time has now become the unique selling point of this concept. Once the battery is fully charged, it starts producing hydrogen. For a battery this causes hazardous situations, but if we control the process and start using the battery as an electrolyser it creates a very interesting business case.”

And that’s where Battolyser’s innovation ties in with the current energy transition, explains Diederick: “Going to a net-zero society, two things will happen. Once it is fully dependent on renewable energy, the energy system will also be more volatile, creating a need for large-scale storage solutions (batteries) to buffer between the peaks and troughs in supply. Sometimes there’s next to no wind, nor is it always sunny. Secondly, green hydrogen will play a vital role in the decarbonisation of industry, helping us to meet the 2050 targets. Hydrogen will be vital for the carbon-neutral production of iron, but also fertilisers and, in the long run, plastics that aren’t based on fossil fuels. Although hydrogen’s future application in some industries is still subject to debate, all serious forecasts for the green hydrogen market range between huge and enormous. Whatever the case, it is a fast-growing market. Battolyser is based on a unique technology that combines the short-term energy storage and production of hydrogen in a single integrated system.”

Strong ties with the Rotterdam region

Battolyser was established in 2018 as spin-off and partnership between Delft University of Technology, Proton Ventures and Professon Fokko Mulder. The company was an immediate success and continued to grow at an impressive pace. Investments by Koolen Industries enabled Battolyser to scale up its operations and commercialise its innovations. The firm has had strong ties with the Rotterdam area from the start. Diederick: “We need to stay close to a large city like Rotterdam. Here, we find the educational institutions and talent we need to further develop our solution. Many of our clients are also based in and around Rotterdam. Mostly large companies that own renewable assets (offshore wind in Northwest Europe) and deliver power to the grid. These companies can really benefit from our solution. Thirdly, Rotterdam is quickly developing a new hydrogen supply chain. These elements are all crucial to the success of our enterprise.”

Ambitions

Over the past four years, both Battolyser’s unique technology and the company itself have developed at an impressive pace. So what are Diederick predictions for the next few years? “As a start-up – or by now scale-up – our rate of growth has been almost ‘un-Dutch’. We aim to become a significant player in a quickly expanding international market. This requires an incredibly ambitious and daring growth plan. The Rotterdam port area is expected to develop into a leading hydrogen hub, which will help build the supply chain required for this future growth. Teaming up with a major player like the Port of Rotterdam – and the whole supply chain that will be attracted by such a venture – will play a crucial role on our path to success.”

 

Photos: Rotterdam Partners, Battolyser, Guido Pijper, Iris van den Broek

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