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Research & Development

In addition to rapid scaling up, a coordinated effort on research and innovation is required to optimally facilitate and where possible accelerate scaling up and application. To this end, the program focuses on seven program lines with a broad spectrum from industrial, applied to fundamental research (TRL 2-8). The R&D program will make a major contribution to solving technical uncertainties, accelerating the intended cost reduction and developing innovative revenue models in both the supplying manufacturing industry and the production and application of climate-neutral hydrogen.

WP1: Making carbon-neutral Hydrogen

Cost-efficient large-scale production of carbon-neutral hydrogen is a key element in the transition to a climate-neutral economy. Given the rapid rise and application of solar and wind energy, water electrolysis is a logical route. An analysis of the first projects, the estimated required capacity and the potential market shows that we are only at the beginning of the development of this new industry. This part of the program is therefore aimed at reducing the (system) costs of water electrolysis to 2.5 €/kg H2 by 2030, and at rapidly increasing the production of electrolysers. In addition, there are relevant, possibly disruptive, transition technologies that prepare the chemical industry for the use of this green hydrogen. This route simultaneously produces both carbon-neutral hydrogen and a usable carbon-based feedstock (e.g. carbon black or precursors for higher order hydrocarbons). Click here for more information.

WP2: Transport and storage of Hydrogen

So far, transport and storage of hydrogen are limited because almost all hydrogen is taken up directly as an energy carrier and feedstock in industry. With the scaling up of hydrogen production for deployment in the energy system, it is necessary to examine whether and to what extent the existing intensive transmission and distribution network for natural gas that is present in our country and connects us to surrounding countries can be used in a safe and acceptable manner for the transport of hydrogen. The question also arises as to whether the gas grid requires modification or expansion for the purpose of hydrogen transportation, for example due to installation of large-scale electrolysis capacity. Safety is the key requirement here, not only of the transportation system but also of the various applications and storage of hydrogen. Therefore, research is needed into the large-scale storage of hydrogen in, for example, tanks, cylinders or salt caverns and other underground storage capacity. Click here for more information.

WP3: Direct use of hydrogen

The current global hydrogen produced from natural gas is currently used primarily as feedstock for industrial processes, for example in oil and biomass refining and ammonia production. However, the direct use of hydrogen can also be attractive in energy-intensive industries for decarbonizing processes requiring high temperatures. In power generation, hydrogen, and in some cases derivatives of hydrogen such as ammonia or methanol, can be used in fuel cells or on a large scale in (modified) natural gas turbines. In addition, hydrogen can be used in the mobility sector in a fuel cell electric drive or as a climate-neutral fuel in internal combustion engines.The built environment is also an interesting sector for the use of hydrogen in heating homes. Here it is important to determine in which segments of the built environment the application of hydrogen is optimal. It is also important to understand the instruments that take into account financial, environmental, safety and comfort aspects as well as the social impact. Click here for more information.

WP4: Hydrogen & green e- for C-based chemistry

Our society relies heavily on carbon-based materials, produced almost entirely from fossil sources such as oil and natural gas. Using renewable hydrogen, produced directly from green electrons or through direct use of green electrons, could make many of our current chemical conversion processes more sustainable, directly reducing the carbon footprint of our petrochemical and chemical plants. The envisioned subprogram outlines three directions to achieve these goals. First, the large-scale introduction of green hydrogen, which can be used directly to replace fossil hydrogen. Second, the direct use of green electrons to heat high-temperature chemical conversion processes. Finally, we propose the direct use of green electrons to perform large-scale electrochemical reactions. This route enables the production of bulk chemicals, such as ethylene, propylene and their oxides, as well as fuels and fuel components, such as methanol and kerosene, directly from CO2. Moving in this direction represents a gradual but substantial shift toward circular chemical production facilities that will make our current chemical plants greener and more innovative. Click here for more information.

WP5: Hydrogen & green e- for N-based chemistry

Nitrogen is one of the most important elements in living cells and many natural compounds. The synthesis of nitrogen-containing (bioactive) compounds for the production of fertilizers and sustainable plastics is enormously important in modern society. Many of the synthetic routes to nitrogen-containing molecules use ammonia (NH3) as a feedstock. However, the production and use of ammonia and its derivatives involve high energy consumption and large CO2 emissions. Grey hydrogen production for ammonia production consumes 1.5% of total global energy demand and contributes up to 7% of the Netherlands' CO2 emissions. This program line focuses on solutions to this major challenge.

The technology development subprogram of this program line focuses on reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions by exploring the feasibility of different integrated production routes to low emission hydrogen and ammonia. The part focused on the fundamental development of new nitrogen chemistry aims to provide innovative plug-in technology and is mainly focused on the use of ammonia as an energy carrier and for sustainable synthesis of nitrogen-containing molecules. Click here for more information.

WP6: Green Hydrogen & e- for specialties

The Dutch chemical industry derives a significant part of its turnover from chemical semi-finished products and specialties with diverse applications from automotive parts, packaging, paint and coatings to pharma, food and agro. The production of this huge variety of chemical products is currently still dependent on petrochemicals and multi-step chemical transformations, which generate a lot of waste and consume a lot of energy. The main goal of this program line is to develop new chemical transformations that are cleaner and consume less raw materials and energy through the use of green hydrogen, renewable resources and direct application of green electrons. This will have a major industrial and societal impact and change a significant portion of our current chemical processes. The use of green hydrogen and green (bio-based) feedstocks will enable a "double greening" of the chemical industry. In a second approach, sustainably generated electricity is directly applied (bypassing the initial H2 formation) to develop clean redox-based chemical transformations and electrochemical-based industrial processes for the production of specialties. Click here for more information.

WP7: Socio-economic aspects and implementation of hydrogen

An important question is how the role of hydrogen in the energy system might evolve, given policy, technology, economies of scale, consumer and investment behavior, and how it will relate to other sustainability options and competition and cooperation with other countries. To gain more insight into this, socio-technical system models can be developed to analyze the role of hydrogen in light of the other energy system and economic activities. This includes, for example, cost developments, displacement effects, regulation and market design, and life cycle analysis.

All parts of the hydrogen value chain - production, transportation, storage, conversion and application - can only get off the ground successfully if a number of conditions are met. First, there must be an adequate business case that fits into an appropriate energy sector market design. If not, there must be sufficient other incentives for investors to bet on hydrogen. Second, laws and regulations must provide clear legal frameworks for further market development. Third, there must be sufficient public support so that no objections are raised from society against hydrogen development. It is therefore important to analyze these intersecting aspects in all parts of the value chain in advance and to ensure public support for technological development. Click here for more information.