“A climate-neutral world won’t work without green hydrogen,” says Dr. Stefan Hartung, chairman of the Bosch board of management. Bosch is now expanding its business to include technology for water treatment. In addition to systems using the usual water treatment method of reverse osmosis, Bosch also plans to offer new solutions specifically engineered for remote areas and offshore locations. “Above all, the production of green hydrogen requires ultrapure water. With our special-purpose systems, water treatment can be done anywhere, even in the most remote areas of the world, in an economical and environmentally friendly way,” Hartung says. The systems designed by Bosch Manufacturing Solutions are not only robust and low maintenance, but compared to solutions commonly available on the market, they eliminate the need for chemicals in water treatment. With its entry into this new business field, Bosch is closing the circle and rounding off its range of products and services: “We’re developing technology for water treatment as well as for the generation, compression, storage, and use of hydrogen – and doing so for various sectors. Hardly any other company offers such a broad portfolio,” Hartung says.
Water treatment forms the first and most fundamental link in the hydrogen value chain. Bosch has developed the water treatment technology for electrolysis at its locations in Renningen, Stuttgart-Feuerbach, and České Budějovice, and external pilot projects are to be added in the course of this year. The market launch for the systems is planned for 2024, and Bosch will be presenting the technology at the Bosch Tech Day in Stuttgart-Feuerbach on July 13, 2023.
Special-purpose water treatment systems for the toughest conditions
Electrolyzers require ultrapure water for the production of hydrogen. “Impurities in the water can render electrolyzers inoperative in a very short time,” explains Dr. Wolfgang Schleifenbaum, head of the Hydrogen business unit at Bosch Manufacturing Solutions. In the future, hydrogen will be produced in areas with strong winds or abundant sunshine – Africa, South America, or Northern Europe, for example. Locations offshore or in the desert present particular challenges: considerable distances from the technical facilities, water high in salt or minerals – all make water treatment more difficult. As a result, demand for special equipment is high: Bosch expects that starting in 2035, some 500 of the company’s special-purpose water treatment systems will be needed worldwide each year.
The Bosch systems remove minerals from the water by means of thermal and electrochemical processes to obtain ultrapure water. Thanks to a treatment process without filter media, it is possible for operators to completely dispense with the use of chemicals. “Green hydrogen is sustainable only if its production doesn’t cause collateral damage to the environment; for example, by putting chemicals into our already heavily polluted waters,” Schleifenbaum explains. For predictive maintenance of the equipment, even from far away, Bosch offers software solutions that ensure robust operation in harsh environmental conditions.