The ZEPPELIN project has the general objective of investigating a flexible set of green hydrogen production and storage technologies based on the use of waste and by-products. The aim is to significantly improve the costs and efficiency of the production of this energy vector. The project addresses the different technological challenges linked to biogas and bioethanol reforming, dark fermentation (DF), microbial electrolysis (ME), gasification and H2 storage. In turn, new models for obtaining green H2 are established, complementary to electrolysis with renewable energies; These models are integrated into a decarbonized energy system under the principles of the Circular Economy and digitization, without losing sight of the fact that we are in a scenario of water stress aggravated by phenomena derived from climate change.

The initiative is promoted by a consortium of eight companies led by Aqualia which, together with Norvento Enerxía, Naturgy, Perseo Biotechnology, Repsol, Redexis, Reganosa and Técnicas Reunidas, embark on a project that will last 38 months (from November 1, 2021 to December 31, 2024).

In addition, 9 research organizations also collaborate (CETIM, CIEMAT, EnergyLab, CIDAUT, Institute of Chemical Technology (ITQ-UPV and ITQ-CSIC), the Foundation (FUNGE-UVa), IMDEA-ENERGIA, and ITMATI), which have a complementary technological capacity to carry out all the research activities proposed throughout the project.

The ZEPPELIN project has a total budget of €7,108,584 and a grant of €4,226,161. It has been subsidized by the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI), within the framework of the 2021 call for the SCIENCE AND INNOVATION MISSIONS Program (Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan), and has the support of the Ministry of Science and Innovation. The aid granted to the project is financed by the European Union through the Next Generation EU Fund. This program finances cooperative pre-competitive research projects, led by companies, to achieve:

Relevant research that proposes solutions to transversal and strategic challenges of Spanish society.

The improvement of the base of knowledge and technology on which Spanish companies rely to compete.

The encouragement of public-private cooperation

In this way, the ZEPPELIN project will address the challenges proposed in Mission 2: Promote safe, efficient, and clean energy for the 21st century.

To this end, ZEPPELIN is structured into five complementary research activities that address each of the project's technologies, as well as their integration in different proofs of concept:

Activity 1 proposes the investigation and optimization of the production of H2 from catalytic techniques. The biogas dry reforming process is investigated and optimized, including its desulfurization pretreatment and a second-stage valorization of the syngas to maximize H2 production. In addition, the investigation and optimization of the process of obtaining and reforming bioethanol is addressed, as well as the improvements of the process through electrification of catalytic reactors.

Activity 2 proposes the investigation and optimization of H2 production from microbiological techniques. Specifically, the dark fermentation process, microbial electrolysis and bioH2 upgrading are investigated and optimized.

Activity 3 is focused on research and optimization of H2 production from thermochemical techniques. To do this, the gasification process from waste and the separation and purification processes of H2 and Syngas are investigated and optimized.

Activity 4 is focused on the investigation of H2 storage processes. Specifically, new storage materials in the form of ammonia, new storage materials using porous materials, are investigated, in addition to investigating the thermal-energy integration in H2 storage processes.

Additionally, in each of the previous activities, the investigation of new algorithms for the modeling of each of the processes studied is proposed.

Finally, Activity 5 addresses the integration and optimization of alternative processes for obtaining hydrogen. The integration of new production and storage technologies is studied, including the proof of concept of the technologies investigated in ZEPPELIN. In addition, the analysis of the potential for integration of technologies and the design of a digital optimization tool is proposed.