Volkswagen to produce hydrogen in North Hessen

In a pioneering step towards sustainable energy, Volkswagen will produce hydrogen at its Kassel plant in Baunatal starting in 2025.

© Volkswagen

Based on a plan initiated in 2021, Volkswagen aims to replace gas with hydrogen in production processes. By 2025, the automaker will substitute hydrogen for 20 percent of the gas required for aluminum smelting at Europe’s largest light metal foundry. This transition at the Kassel plant in Baunatal in North Hessen is part of Volkswagen Group’s broader strategy to be carbon-neutral by 2040.

The project underscores a significant shift towards sustainable industrial processes and reinforces Hessen’s reputation as a center for innovation and sustainability.

Electricity needed for hydrogen production will be generated on-site using photovoltaic systems and vertical wind turbines. The photovoltaic panels will have a capacity of one megawatt, and the setup will include a new substation, which will direct the electricity straight to the heart of hydrogen production – an electrolyzer. By situating all parts of the setup closely together, the goal is to create an efficient closed-loop system.

In the electrolyzer, hydrogen and oxygen are obtained from water (H2O). Both are then used to melt aluminum for engine, transmission, and crankcase housings. According to Volkswagen, hydrogen is particularly suitable for this process because it produces an open flame, which can also remove paints and residual oil from aluminum scrap – something electric furnaces are not capable of. The foundry melts 350 tons of recycled material daily, and an additional 150 tons of liquid aluminum are purchased for the production of new parts.

Volkswagen plans to install wind turbines with vertical rotors rather than the 240-meter-high facilities on conventional wind farms most people are familiar with.

According to Volkswagen, the project is a first worldwide – for both the company and the industry. It will demonstrate the technical feasibility of large-scale renewable energy production in industrial settings. Volkswagen hopes it will inspire similar sustainable practices across various industries.