AQUAGAS originates from Hamrin Adsorption och Filterteknik and has been in the business of compression, adsorption, purifying and filtration since the 70s. During the 90s the name Hamrin and the products for purifying industrial compressed air was acquired by Atlas Copco Compressor. The rest of the business, for example systems to purify hydrogen were in the year of 1998 transferred into a new established company, AQUAGAS Sweden AB.
AQUAGAS have +30 years of experience of developing technology to purify hydrogen and has become a key supplier to some of the leading players in the renewable energy sector.
HYDROGEN AS AN ENERGY CARRIER
There is a great focus on the transition to green energy to phase out fossil energy.
In addition to electrification, there is great interest in hydrogen as an energy carrier. Just like with electrification where you store energy in batteries, you can store energy in hydrogen. One way to produce hydrogen with renewable green energy is through electrolysis, where water is split into oxygen and hydrogen. Hydrogen is the substance in nature that has the highest energy value, which makes the process very energy-intensive and in order to achieve profitability, it is necessary to be able to utilize surplus energy in society that otherwise cannot be utilized. Hydrogen is today one of the most common gases in the process industry and one of the oldest manufacturers of electrolytic hydrogen is Norsk Hydro Electrolyser, now NEL Hydrogen. They manufactured the first electrolyser in 1927 and have delivered the largest water electrolyser in the world to Rjukan with a capacity of 30.000 Nm3/h in 1940.
Electrolytically produced hydrogen gas contains residues of water and oxygen and to be able to be stored and used in advanced processes, the gas must in most cases be purified.
AQUAGAS develops and manufactures purification systems based on adsorption and catalytic purification for process gases, including hydrogen gas since the early 1980s. In the mid-80s, we received the first order from Norsk Hydro / Nel and it was the start of a very close collaboration that continues today. Norsk Hydro was one of the pioneers in developing systems to be able to store and use hydrogen as an energy carrier. At the beginning of 2000, AQUAGAS was offered to participate in the work, and in 2003 we delivered our purification system to the first public hydrogen station for refueling cars in Iceland, which was built by Norsk Hydro.
The use of hydrogen as an energy carrier was initially directed towards the vehicle side where the hydrogen acts as the car’s battery and where it is converted back into electrical energy in the car’s fuel cell system to power the car’s electric motor. The benefits to use hydrogen instead of a a battery are the ability to refuel quickly and that the range not is affected by the temperature in the same way as for a battery. The fuel cell is sensitive to pollutants and the hydrogen gas must be purified to low levels in order to be used. AQUAGAS’ purification systems achieves the quality prescribed in the international standard that the car industry has developed.
For many years, the hydrogen projects have been run as small-scale pilot projects, but in recent years the projects have entered a more mature phase towards public and more full-scale facilities. Other areas of use for hydrogen, such as energy supplements in natural gas networks, operation of trains, ships and also new industrial processes, have also been added. An example of the latter is the HYBRIT project in Luleå. With the HYBRIT technology, SSAB aims to replace the coking coal, which is traditionally needed for ore-based steel production, with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen. The result will be the world’s first fossil – free steelmaking technology, with virtually no carbon dioxide emissions. The pilot project that is currently underway and where AQUAGAS has delivered the purification system for 1.000 Nm3/h of hydrogen gas. With full-scale production, 90.000 Nm3/h of hydrogen will be required, i.e., 90 times more and 3 times more than the currently largest plant in the world. It shows what challenges we await in the future…