🇸🇪 SEK 81 million to pilot plant for climate-neutral hydrogen at LTU Green Fuels

October 9, 2023

Press release from Luleå University of Technology

LTU Green Fuels at Luleå University of Technology

For the steel industry to be able to lower its carbon emissions, large-scale hydrogen production is required. The European Union and Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth are funding a test bed located at Luleå University of Technology’s pilot plant LTU Green fuels that will explore solutions.

Large-scale hydrogen production is a prerequisite for the steel industry’s transition to fossil-free steel production. A transition to carbon-neutral steel industry is estimated to reduce the carbon emissions by around ten per cent. But there is a need for more research and testing in large-scale environments. Therefore, the EU and the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth are funding the project H2-Labs, led by Luleå University of Technology.

“With funding from the Just Transition Fund and public funding, we enable important research for the climate transition of the steel industry,” says Elisabeth Backteman, director-general of the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth.

Building up a test bed

The project will build a test bed for electrolysis systems at the pilot plant LTU Green Fuels at Luleå University of Technology, and carry out tests with electrolysis for producing hydrogen gas and oxygen. The project will also explore how to save and make use of residual heat from the hydrogen production. Furthermore, it will explore how hydrogen production can be more energy- and cost-efficient. The University’s research initiative Centre for Hydrogen Energy Systems Sweden – CH2ESS sets out a coherent approach for production, storing and transport of hydrogen gas, and includes process integration and the electric power supply system. In fact, an important focus is heavy experimental activities at the University’s pilot plant for fuel synthesis, LTU Green Fuels.

“This investment allows Luleå University of Technology to substantially strengthen the research and education initiative within the hydrogen gas domain together with our partners. The research and development at pilot level, around one MW, which will be carried out at LTU Green Fuels, will lead to increased knowledge for all parts involved. Hydrogen pilots are required to create the experience of establishing, operation and maintenance, optimisation issues, and how to use the side streams of hydrogen production. This is important know-how involving specific conditions for cold climate,” says Fredrik Granberg, site manager at the University’s pilot plant LTU Green Fuels.

Luleå University of Technology is the project owner and LTU Green Fuels one of the project partners. Other partners are PiteEnergi, Smurfit Kappa and H2 Green Steel.

Hydrogen crucial for industries

“Hydrogen will be crucial for several industries’ ability to shift to sustainable solutions. Sweden has good prerequisites to build knowledge and be a nation in the forefront of a growing hydrogen economy. The test bed H2 Labs at LTU Green Fuels in Piteå will contribute to this and for us at H2 Green Steel it constitutes a good platform for innovative and applied research about solutions that can be implemented in large-scale hydrogen plants,” says Marita Nilsson, Technology Lead Electrolyzer Systems.

“For us, it is important to be part of the research and development of sustainable energy sources that we can benefit from in the future. It is a unique opportunity for both Piteå and for us with a pilot plant nearby our paper mill, therefore we want to be involved in placing Piteå on the map to be at the forefront of this development,” says Per Swärd, CEO Smurfit Kappa Piteå.

Imitates future large-scale steel-industry plants

The pilot plant LTU Green Fuels will be used for scientific research by imitating future large-scale steel-industry plants.

“The tests will increase the knowledge and know-how of construction, building and operation of large-scale hydrogen production in a cold climate. Many sectors are interested in research in large-scale electrolysis. The results will be disseminated both nationally and internationally. They will also be demonstrated at international conferences and in scientific journals, “ says Monika Brandt, Just Transition Fund official at the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth.

The Just Transition Fund is part of the European Green Deal, the new growth strategy of the EU. The fund focuses on the industries and counties having very high carbon emissions and will help the industries to make the climate transition while maintaining their competitiveness. The programme amounts to SEK 2.9 billion including national co-financing for the climate transition of the steel industry in the county of Norrbotten, metals industry in the county of Västerbotten and the mineral industry in the county of Gotland, all of them in Sweden. The money in the fund will be used for, among other things, investments in new climate-smart and resource-efficient technology, skills improvement for employees, research, and strengthening of electricity networks.