Swiss Steel Group’s 1st Hydrogen Symposium

The Swiss Steel Group (SSG) held the 1st Hydrogen Symposium at the Henrichshütte Iron and Steel Works in Hattingen.

“The Future of Hydrogen – Solutions from the Swiss Steel Group” was the subject of Dr. Till Schneiders, Vice President Technology & Quality, Deutsche Edelstahlwerke Specialty Steel GmbH & Co. KG. He gave a report of SSG activities and highlighted the importance of hydrogen as an important component in the steel production process. He emphasized that SSG’s activities encompass the use of hydrogen and steels engineered for hydrogen technology.

Following Dr. Schneiders, Till Mansmann, member of the German parliament, the Innovation Commissioner for Green Hydrogen at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, held his forward-looking lecture on the topic “Research and Development for a Successful Ramp-up of the Hydrogen Economy”. After that Dr. Philipp Wasmuth from Open Grid Europe GmbH lectured on the subject “Hydrogen for the Diversification and Decarbonization of the European Energy Supply”.

He addressed the question “How great is the task of decarbonization?” given the considerable need for decarbonization until climate targets are met. He also enlarged upon hydrogen production sites and mentioned the first import route for hydrogen from the Netherlands to be completed in 2025.

This was followed by “Hydrogen in the Future Energy System – Challenges and Trade-offs” by Dr. Julian Röder, Working Group Leader, Ruhr University Bochum, Chair of Energy Systems and Energy Economics. He considers hydrogen indispensable in efforts to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045 and calls for development of renewable energies and a noticeable increase in energy efficiency.

After Dr. Röder, Robert Baron, Director Corporate Strategy Swiss Steel Group, spoke on the topic “Hydrogen: From Buzzword to Reality”. In his presentation, he addressed the challenges of the different emission segments ranging from the burning of gas and coal to the footprints of purchased energy and purchased raw materials. Expanding on the production process of green hydrogen, he explained the hydrogen needs of the German steel industry and the requirements associated with hydrogen production.


The subsequent lectures specifically concerned the science of steel, opened by Jens Jürgensen of Ruhr University Bochum. He talked about the “Material Challenges and Solutions for the Use of Hydrogen as an Energy Source”. He clarified that many materials – primarily metals – may be subject to cracks and embrittlement and explained how these risks could be avoided or minimized by selecting the right materials.

This was followed by a presentation by Dr. Gregor Manke, Managing Director, EURO-LABOR GmbH. His chosen subject was “Local Hydrogen Analysis – Non-destructive Hydrogen Measurements”, an outstanding complement to Jens Jürgensen’s presentation. He made the point that hydrogen analysis is an important if not essential part of the selection of a material. His reasoning was that hydrogen is generally not homogenously distributed within a material, which significantly affects the stability and load capacity of a component. The ideal follow-up to this presentation was provided by Dr. Hans-Günter Krull, Head of Research and Development, Deutsche Edelstahlwerke Specialty Steel GmbH & Co. KG. His chosen subject was “Material Selection for the Use of Hydrogen”. He spoke about the factors influencing resistance to high-pressure hydrogen and emphasized that plastic deformation of a part must be avoided at all costs since steels with a yield strength of over 900 MPa are to be considered critical in regard to RRA.

The topic area was rounded off by a presentation by Dr. Thorsten Michler, Group Manager Lifetime Concepts for Hydrogen Applications, Fraunhofer IWM. He talked about “Stainless Steels for Hydrogen Applications – An Overview”. Dr. Michler stressed the importance of considering the results and contexts presented as only applicable for gaseous, dry hydrogen (GH2). In his lecture, he initially focused on different stainless steels and then went on to explain the development of a special high-pressure hydrogen resistant alloy.

The first presentation of the subject area “The Industrial Use of Hydrogen” was given by Dr. Klaas Kunze, , Head of Hydrogen Storage Development, BMW AG. His topic was “The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Drive in the Passenger Car Application and use of Steel Materials in the High-pressure Storage System”. He spotlighted the hydrogen-powered BMW iX5 HYDROGEN. His presentation was complemented by the lecture of Dr. Heinrich Bülte, Head of Thermodynamics & Emissions in the R&D Division, Deutz AG, which turned the attention to “Hydrogen Engine Power Generation and Non-Road Mobile Machinery”. The development of a hydrogen-powered engine is already on a very successful course, Dr. Bülte explained. The engine is similar in function to a diesel, but there is still sufficient potential for further improvement.

The following two presentations had a strong focus on scientific aspects, starting with “Current Issues in the Evaluation of Turbomachinery Components for Applications with Compressed Hydrogen”, by Dr. Roland Herzog, Head of Material Technology, MAN Energy Solutions SE. The second was held by Stefan Wanjura, Advisory Key Expert, Siemens Energy Global GmbH & Co. KG, on the subject “Consideration of the Effects of Compressed Hydrogen on the Fuel-bearing Components of Large Gas Turbines using the Example of a Selected Component”.

Prof. Dr. Tim Hosenfeldt, Senior Vice President Central Technologies, Schaeffler AG, went on to talk about “Materials-based Innovations for the Supply and Use of Hydrogen”. He established that material innovations are decisive for future success and in technical leadership as well as for sustainability and economic viability. As he sees it, steel will play a leading role. Davor Spoljaric, Senior Vice President Application Technology, Messer SE & Co. KGaA, assumed in his lecture “Cost-optimized Supply and Effective Use of ‘Green’ Hydrogen: Step-by-step Decarbonization at the Steel Mill” that the EU will mandate the use of renewable hydrogen for heavy industry by 2030/35.

Gregor Ebbers, Head of Investments / Special Tasks, Deutsche Edelstahlwerke Specialty Steel GmbH & Co. KG, held a noteworthy presentation on the topic “Green Hydrogen in Steelmaking – Operational Implementation Challenges”. In it, he explained the targets of the Swiss Steel Group as follows: reduce CO2 emissions and create a CO2-neutral process chain in steel production. For quite some time, the Swiss Steel Group has been looking at hydrogen as a substitute for natural gas. Within the next 3-5 years, pilot and reference facilities are to be built at selected sites of the Swiss Steel Group.

“Heating of Thermoprocessing Plants with Hydrogen or Hydrogen-Natural Gas Mixtures”. This contribution by Dr. Joachim Wünning, Managing Director, WS Wärmeprozesstechnik GmbH, ended the symposium. Dr. Wünning described the conventional heating methods and explained why electrical heating is also possible with hydrogen.

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