BAM cooperates with Namibia in research into groundbreaking pilot plant

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Namibia possesses almost unique conditions to produce Green Hydrogen, making it a prime cooperation partner for meeting Europe's growing demand for renewable energy carriers. The Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM) is cooperating with Namibia in research for a hydrogen pilot plant and refueling station targeted at gaining jointly scientific insights for upscaling Green Hydrogen Technologies and to ensure a high safety level for the hydrogen economy in both countries.

The research project is realized at the state-of-the-art Hydrogen Pilot Plant a few kilometres outside of Walvis Bay, currently the most advanced Green Hydrogen project in the country. This groundbreaking initiative has garnered significant global attention, with both the UN and the EU expressing keen interest. Completion of the 5 MW pilot plant is planned in just 10 months. Its primary goal is to produce 200 tons of Green Hydrogen annually, catering to various local applications within Namibia's port, mining, and transport sectors, encompassing both road and rail.

Test field for future hydrogen production

Beyond its role in meeting local energy demands, the pilot plant serves as a crucial testing ground for hydrogen production and handling techniques, as well as the associated components and infrastructure. Notably, it will be the first hydrogen production site in Namibia, positioning the country together with other projects at the forefront of global advancements in this field. The plant is a remarkable feat of innovation and a testament to the commitment of Cleanergy to sustainable energy solutions.

“Our mission is to lead Namibia's green energy transformation by becoming the foremost producer of green hydrogen, reducing carbon emissions, and driving economic growth using Olthaver & List's solar energy plant and CMB.TECH's expertise in hydrogen and ammonia technologies. For this reason, we are ecstatic to collaborate with BAM, supported by UNam and we are grateful to Prof. Dr. Böllinghaus and his team for their dedication towards driving real transformation in the field and on the subject”, stated Eike Krafft, Group Manager for Olthaver & List and Cleanergy Solutions Namibia.

Research to enable safe upscaling

BAM in Berlin and its Namibian counterpart the Namibia Green Hydrogen Institute (NGHRI) at the University of Namibia (UNam) have been invited by Cleanergy to collaborate as research partners in the groundbreaking project. The main objective of the research is to mitigate potential failures in new production facilities through intensive materials compatibility research, thus reducing risks. The knowledge gained from this research will greatly contribute to the safe and efficient upscaling of hydrogen and derivate production, such as ammonia. In addition, the research aims at strengthening capacity building and knowledge dissemination in Namibia.

The mutual scientific exchange is facilitated via a group of doctoral students from Namibia. Over the course of the next three years, these students will conduct research on materials compatibility. Most of their research will take place at BAM's competence centre, H2Safety@BAM. However, they will also conduct parts of their research at the pilot plant in Walvis Bay. This unique approach will allow them to contribute their knowledge to the scaling up process from the pilot plant in Namibia, as well as educate scientific and technical personnel in the country.

Focus on innovative materials for hydrogen

"Through our joint research program, we will identify innovative materials for welded transport lines, piping systems, and storage tanks and thus, contribute to enhance the safety and sustainability of green hydrogen technologies" states Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Böllinghaus, Head of Department Component Safety at BAM, who is leading the project on the German side.

“The research program has been meticulously designed to benefit both countries by building trust in Namibia's green hydrogen industry”, adds Böllinghaus. “It focuses on safety, sustainability, capacity building, and economic transformation, aligning with Namibia's industrialization goals. We are sincerely grateful to our Namibian partners, especially Eike Krafft, Director of Cleanergy, and Prof. Dr. Kenneth Matengu, Vice Chancellor of the University of Namibia, for their invaluable technical contributions and research infrastructure support for the Namibia Green Hydrogen Research Institute (NGHRI) at UNam.

The project at BAM, with a budget of over 1 million euros, is being funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). The BMBF is providing a contribution of more than 10 million euros to the Cleanergy Pilot Plant in Namibia.

This article was first published on 16 November by BAM.

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