Hydrogen is considered one of the keys to energy transition and a main contributor to achieving decarbonization – especially in sectors and applications that are difficult to electrify (e.g. chemicals and steel production, long-haul trucking and shipping).
Hydrogen applications face very challenging conditions. These include high pressure levels of up to 1000 bar, extreme temperatures from -253°C (liquefied hydrogen) up to 650°C – 950°C (Solid Oxide Electrolyzer and Fuel Cells) as well as inherent risk of explosion. This is because hydrogen has a very low ignition energy and a significantly wider flammability range compared to other fuels like methane, propane, or petrol.
Moreover, as this element is so light, it occupies a high volume at normal temperature and pressure. Thus, transporting hydrogen efficiently requires prior compression or liquefaction.
Although hydrogen has been used in industrial refining processes for decades already, there is a multitude of new developments in application possibilities, such as the generation of green hydrogen via water electrolysis, conversion into synthetic fuels, and usage in fuel cell electric vehicles. These applications will require completely new systems and technologies, as well as reliable materials and components that meet the design requirements. When deployed in fields like mobility or residential electricity supply, sensors are widely used to monitor the safety of the whole system including hydrogen tank. The robustness, safety, and longevity of the sensor components are vital to prevent severe accidents. Gastight sensor seals and housings can help provide the required protection.
As a world-leading supplier of innovative hermetic feedthroughs and components, SCHOTT’s business unit Electronic Packaging helps to improve efficiency and safety along the entire hydrogen value chain – from generation over conversion, transportation and storage up to hydrogen usage in mobility or stationary applications. SCHOTT offers hermetic components like feedthroughs required to transmit power or valuable data and information provided by sensors, hermetic optical access for process monitoring, as well as sealing materials for hydrogen applications.
Generation: SCHOTT sealing glasses create a hermetic seal in Solid Oxide Electrolyzer Cell (SOEC) stacks. Thus, they enable the secure and stable combination of multiple cells into a high-performance cell stack at temperatures between 650°C and 950°C. Glass as sealing material not only offers excellent hermeticity and very high temperature resistance, but also exceptional chemical stability and higher electrical resistance at operating temperature. SCHOTT offers a large variety of high purity glasses with optimal reproducibility thanks to dedicated melting and grinding facilities.
Generation & Conversion: SCHOTT ViewPortTM Process Analytical Technology (PAT) components are gastight optical sensor feedthroughs that act as receptacles for Raman or Fluorescence probes. They are equipped with a hermetically sealed high-precision optical window and can be securely connected to standard ports (e.g. Ingold, PG13.5). By allowing for inline or in-situ monitoring, SCHOTT ViewPortTM components enable increased yields as well as real-time process control and automation in Power-to-X (bio-)reactor or Pyrolysis reactor applications.
Transportation & Storage: SCHOTT’s feedthroughs for liquid and compressed hydrogen applications enable a safe, explosion-proof supply of electrical power, control, and instrumentation signals, for example to expanders, compressors and submerged pumps. Unlike polymer-based products, SCHOTT Eternaloc® feedthroughs are hermetically sealed using only inorganic, non-aging materials – making them maintenance-free even after many years of use. SCHOTT has several decades of experience with cryogenic gas: since 1985, safety-critical Eternaloc® feedthroughs have proven their reliability in thousands of liquefied gas applications worldwide. They withstand extremely high pressure and thermal shocks, and remain absolutely leak tight, even in case of an accident. They also comply with numerous explosion-proof requirements such as ATEX and IECEx.
Stationary usage: SCHOTT sealing glasses have a proven track record in Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) stacks since the 1990s. End applications including our sealing glasses range from decentralized power generation systems up to fuel cell-based cruise ships.
Mobility usage: SCHOTT offers a broad portfolio of truly hermetic sensor feedthroughs and packages particularly suited for harsh-environment applications. Thanks to superior pressure, temperature, corrosion resistance, and the minimized risk of short circuits and electrical leakage, they offer long-term peace of mind for safety- or performance-critical applications. SCHOTT’s glass-to-metal sealed housings have been used for decades to reliably protect sensitive automotive electronics and sensors such as temperature, pressure, gas, and fluid sensors. In the area of hydrogen, SCHOTT’s glass-to-metal feedthroughs are already used for in-tank temperature sensors in fuel cell vehicles (FCV).