This autumn, heating manufacturer Nefit Bosch in Deventer will begin creating a test center for hydrogen-powered heating systems. Nefit Bosch developed a central heating boiler suitable for hydrogen a few years ago. In addition to hydrogen boilers, Bosch in the Netherlands is also working on components for electrolyzers that produce green hydrogen.
Alternative to Natural Gas
Nefit Bosch has been part of the international Bosch Group since 2004. Besides heat pumps and other electric solutions, Bosch also focuses its research and development on hydrogen. Hydrogen is considered by many as a promising alternative to natural gas in the built environment. It has been demonstrated that the existing gas infrastructure can be used for hydrogen distribution without significant modifications.
Hydrogen and Heat Pumps
An existing production hall will be redesigned and renovated to accommodate the hydrogen test center at the Nefit Bosch site in Deventer. Markus Baumeister, Director of Engineering at Nefit Bosch, explains, “This is possible because the production of central heating boilers is now mainly concentrated in Bosch factories abroad, freeing up nearly 4,000 square meters in the production hall.” One-third of the production hall will be set up as a test center, including a well-equipped workshop for building prototypes. Two-thirds of this space will be used for other activities, such as a configuration center for prefabricated solutions and the production of (roof) heat pumps. “Oost NL, the East Netherlands Development Agency, and the municipality of Deventer supported us in the expansion and brought our test center to the attention of parties in the region and beyond,” adds Baumeister.
Janet de Rooy-Smid, Project Manager Energy at Oost NL, sees the new test center as a valuable addition to the ecosystem: “The expansion of Nefit Bosch in Deventer demonstrates that the (East) Netherlands is an attractive location for R&D in the field of hydrogen. Nefit Bosch has been a valuable employer in Deventer for many years. We are proud that this company is investing in the region with solutions that contribute to the heat transition. Changing how we heat our homes is a crucial part of the energy transition.”
Different rules and facilities, especially regarding safety, apply to hydrogen testing. “We have always conducted extensive research on natural gas and propane combustion properties. We are now significantly expanding our laboratory capacity and adding hydrogen to our research,” explains Baumeister. Green hydrogen will mainly be used for the tests. A hydrogen station with tube trailers for hydrogen supply will be established in front of the current production hall. Nefit Bosch may eventually generate its own green hydrogen with its own electrolyzer, which is partly being developed by another Bosch unit in Tilburg.
H2 Ready Central Heating Boiler
While installers don’t need to immediately work with hydrogen, Baumeister emphasizes that green hydrogen could eventually become a component of the energy mix for the built environment. “As hybrid heat pumps become more popular, combining them with a hydrogen boiler can be interesting as a carbon-free solution, as it allows you to benefit from the advantages of both sources,” says Baumeister. “Our H2 Ready central heating boiler can be converted from natural gas to hydrogen in less than an hour. With the investments we are making in the test center, we are prepared for the moment when Dutch or European policymakers decide that hydrogen will be part of the energy mix. Certification will also be part of that.”