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Bosch to Invest up to 500 Million Euros to Develop Components for Hydrogen Electrolysis

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Bosch announces investing up to 500 million euros towards developing electrolyser components under its Mobility Solutions business sector by the end of the decade.

When it comes to green hydrogen, Bosch is stepping on the gas: in the interest of effective climate action, the company plans to use this new fuel and be one of the companies producing it.

This is why Bosch is branching out into developing components for electrolysers, which use electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Ideally, the electricity for this purpose is generated from renewable sources such as wind or photovoltaic power, in which case the result is known as “green hydrogen”. “

We cannot afford to delay climate action any longer, so we aim to use Bosch technology to support the rapid expansion of hydrogen production in Europe,” said Dr Stefan Hartung, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH, at the presentation of the company’s annual figures. “To do this, we will leverage our know-how in fuel-cell technology,” added Dr Markus Heyn, member of the board of management of Bosch and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector.

In light of energy diversification, the move away from fossil fuels, and the need to reduce CO2 emissions, demand for green hydrogen proliferates in energy-intensive industries such as steel, chemicals, heavy-duty freight, and private real estate.

According to a report published by PwC, demand for green hydrogen across the GCC is expected to grow significantly in the medium term, reaching about 530 million tons by 2050.

Bosch forecasts that the global market for electrolyser components will increase to around 14 billion euros over the same period.

To help businesses and society reduce dependency on fossil fuels and harness new forms of energy, Bosch intends to invest some three billion euros in climate-neutral technology, such as electrification and hydrogen, over the next three years.

 Bosch Is to Develop the Stack – The Core Component of an Electrolyser

As in the fuel cell, the key component of an electrolyser is a stack, which comprises several hundred individual cells connected in series. In each of these cells, electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This is the reverse of what takes place in a fuel cell, where electricity is generated by combining hydrogen and oxygen.

The chemical reaction is facilitated using a proton-exchange membrane (PEM). Bosch collaborates with several partners to develop a way of combining the electrolyser stack with a control unit, power electronics, and various sensors to create a “smart module”.

With pilot plants scheduled to commence operation in the coming year, the company plans to supply these innovative modules to electrolysis plants and industrial service providers from 2025 onward. Using a simple process, Bosch will incorporate a number of these compact modules.

They can then be used in smaller units with up to ten megawatts and gigawatt-rated onshore and offshore plants – whether in new-build projects or existing plants for conversion to produce green hydrogen. To maximise the efficiency of hydrogen production and extend the service life of the stack, the innovative modules are to be connected to the Bosch cloud.

At the same time, the use of a modular design for the electrolysers is expected to make maintenance more flexible: any scheduled work will require the shutdown of certain sections of the plant only, instead of the entire facility. Bosch is also working on service concepts that will include recycling components to promote a circular economy.

Bosch Can Use Its Strengths in Mass Production and Economies of Scale

Unlike many electrolyser components currently on the market, the Bosch innovative modules will be mass-produced. As such, the manufacturing operation will generate economies of scale.

“Two key factors are speed and cost involved in ramping up hydrogen production,” Heyn said. “This is where we can play to our strengths, thanks to our mass production expertise and automotive know-how.”

Bosch is now planning to start volume production as quickly as possible at several European locations.

 Bosch Portfolio Expansion Will Safeguard Jobs

The ongoing transformation of the automotive sector presents a huge challenge for the industry as a whole. As ever, Bosch’s response here is to innovate. In entering a new field of business – one that will add a nonautomotive wing to its mobility solutions business – the company is seizing the opportunity to safeguard employment further. This expansion into electrolyser components is expected to create work for hundreds of associates in the coming years.

“We’re doing three things at once,” Heyn said. “We’re making a significant contribution ecologically, economically, and socially.

Bosch Is Working on Mobile and Stationary Fuel Cells

Bosch firmly believes in hydrogen as a future fuel and works on stationary and mobile fuel cells. One intended use for the former is a small, on-site power plant for cities, data centres, shopping malls, business parks, and as charge spots for electric vehicles.

Bosch plans to use mobile fuel cells to facilitate the climate-neutral shipping of goods and commodities, initially by truck. The company’s portfolio of vehicle-related products in this field ranges from individual sensors to core components such as the electric air compressor, the stack, and complete fuel-cell modules. Production is expected to start this year.

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