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How HENSOLDT is making hydrogen safe

The remodeling of our energy supply is one of the defining issues of our time. With its green energy technologies, HENSOLDT is making a contribution – for example, to the wider use of hydrogen in military and civilian applications.

Hydrogen constitutes one of the key technologies when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions and building a greener future. Renewable energy can be converted into hydrogen gas and used to generate electricity as needed. Green energy can thus be stored and used flexibly wherever it is needed for energy autonomy from local infrastructure. In addition, hydrogen can also be used directly in electric drives for platforms in the air, on water, and on land, without producing pollutant emissions at the point of use. One of the biggest challenges lies in the safe storage of hydrogen. Cutting-edge storage technologies from HENSOLDT solve this problem.

Hydrogen Storage Expertise

The French company NEXEYA became part of HENSOLDT in 2019. Alongside its operations in the defence sector, NEXEYA already has more than ten years of experience in the development and production of hydrogen storage units and supply stations for industrial needs. In 2021, HENSOLDT further bolstered this expertise by acquiring MAHYTEC, one of the leading French manufacturers of hydrogen tanks and a company that makes carbon and glass fiber–based storage systems for renewable energies. The two companies have been developing joint solutions for converting hydrogen into energy ever since 2015. As such, HENSOLDT is now able to offer innovative solutions that enable the secure storage and transportation of hydrogen in pressure vessels made from composite material. These support the objective of an independent and sustainable energy supply – for defence applications and beyond.

Green Energy in Military Deployment Scenarios

The potential of hydrogen technologies in the defence sector is manifold. Currently, hydrogen is used as an alternative fuel primarily at sea. The German navy already operates its Class 212 A submarines with a combination of diesel generators and fossil fuels.

Hydrogen also plays a vital role in terms of energy autonomy in remote regions and crisis situations. This technology could be used for the independent energy supply of strategic bases. The logistical dependence on barracks or field camps decreases if they can produce hydrogen themselves from renewable energies, store it, and convert it back into electricity, or make it directly available to platforms for their propulsion. The German and French armies are already working on the first corresponding concepts for energy autonomy. In addition, several field trials are currently underway for hydrogen propulsion of unmanned aerial vehicles and light armored vehicles as well as for supplying energy to soldiers’ individual equipment.

Reducing Civil Air Pollution Using Hydrogen

Looking beyond the military segment, hydrogen technology also offers countless possible civil applications. For example, HENSOLDT is working with aircraft manufacturers on the next generation of hydrogen-powered aircraft. Customers from the industrial sector are already using hydrogen technologies from HENSOLDT to power trucks or to stabilize power grids by compensating for fluctuation in the availability of renewable energies with energy stored as hydrogen.

The shipping industry, which still overwhelmingly relies on low-quality fuels that cause correspondingly high levels of environmental pollution, harbors considerable potential in terms of improving air quality. With this in mind, protection zones have already been set up in Canada, the US, and the North and Baltic seas. The result: Demand for hydrogen-powered ships is rising worldwide. These ships, however, are currently reliant on a handful of hydrogen stations in ports.

With its H2‑HDS (high-density storage) solution, HENSOLDT enables the transportation and storage of centrally produced green hydrogen in standard 20-foot containers. The containers can be loaded onto fuel-cell-powered ships, making them more independent of hydrogen stations and allowing them to plan their routes with greater flexibility. The containers can also be used to transport hydrogen to fuel cells in remote locations.

Image of the hydrogen storage solution H2-HDS

HENSOLDT – Setting a Good Example HENSOLDT aims to become completely carbon neutral by 2035. The use of renewable energies is central to achieving this ambition. In Angoulême, France, where HENSOLDT’s hydrogen solutions are developed and produced, a hydrogen pilot project is underway to generate energy for the site there as well as the city’s technology campus. From 2023, the HENSOLDT site in Kiel will also use this technology to store energy generated via photovoltaic systems on the on-site parking lots and feed it into the power grid as needed. This will enable the site to achieve full energy autonomy and save up to 40 tons of CO2 annually. A rollout to other sites is planned.