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Photo Credit: BMBF | Hans-Joachim

09.03.2021

Innovation pitch "Hydrogen Republic of Germany" - basic research strengthens Germany's technological leadership

Federal Ministry of Education and Research starts funding 16 basic hydrogen research projects with 56 million euros // 48 litres of hydrogen are bound in these 80 ml of liquid (LOHC). Enough energy to supply a refrigerator for a day // "Green hydrogen is a central building block for the energy security of Germany as a high-tech country," says Federal Minister Anja Karliczek

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is now funding 16 projects in basic hydrogen research. They are winners of the first round of the BMBF's "Hydrogen Republic of Germany" innovation pitch. The projects complement the three industry-led hydrogen flagship projects, which are also scheduled to start this spring.

While the flagship projects focus on central challenges of the hydrogen economy in the coming years, the basic research projects address the next generation of technology and the one after that. They are intended to help find answers to fundamental questions of the hydrogen economy and thus lay the scientific foundation for new products and applications.

Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek explains:

"I want to make Germany the world's largest source of knowledge on green hydrogen. Green hydrogen is a central building block for the energy security of Germany as a high-tech country. With the development and international distribution of hydrogen technologies, we have a huge opportunity to maintain our competitiveness on the one hand and to combine it with our responsibility for a sustainable economy on the other. I am fully committed to the ambitious development of groundbreaking, innovative hydrogen solutions. Basic research has a key role to play here.

Hydrogen technologies are cutting-edge technologies. Especially in the field of materials, we still have a steep learning curve ahead of us. I therefore expect basic research to yield valuable findings for the development and further development of products 'Made in Germany', which will not only hold their own in international competition, but can also set new technological standards.

With our basic research initiative, we are paving the way for new hydrogen innovations and laying the foundation for the technological leadership of German suppliers. From now on, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research will fund the 16 projects involving 71 partners with a total of around 56 million euros. Further projects will follow soon. The great response to our competition clearly shows that Germany is a country full of ideas for climate-friendly business."

Stefan Kaufmann MdB, Green Hydrogen Coordinator, adds:

"Basic research is important for innovations along the entire hydrogen value chain - from production to transport and storage to the use of hydrogen. The projects deal, for example, with innovative electrolysis processes; but they also deal with forward-looking approaches for a climate-friendly chemical industry or improved fuel cells for heavy-duty transport. In addition, there are aspects such as new analytical methods to better and more quickly identify suitable locations worldwide for the production of green hydrogen.

We are currently experiencing a global race to find the best ideas and to see who can bring them to market first. Thanks to our world-leading research and innovation landscape, we are already very well positioned in this respect. With the new basic research projects, the BMBF is giving further important impetus and emphasis to this strategically highly relevant area."

Innovation pitch "Hydrogen Republic of Germany"

Three highlights from basic hydrogen research:

1 | AEMready: Better electrode and catalyst materials for AEM electrolysis. When it comes to electrolysis for hydrogen production, i.e. the decomposition of water using electricity, the focus is primarily on three approaches: PEM electrolysis, alkaline electrolysis and high-temperature electrolysis. There are also other options: For example, electrolysis with an anion-conducting membrane (AEM electrolysis, anion exchange membrane). It potentially offers many advantages. For example, AEM electrolysis does not require precious metals and can still achieve high efficiency levels. This could significantly reduce hydrogen production costs in the future. However, extensive research and development is still needed before AEM electrolysers can be used on an industrial scale. The AEMready project is dedicated to this. It is working on improving efficiency and service life through new materials for electrodes and catalysts of AEM electrolysers.

2 | CORAL-HD: Long-life fuel cell electrodes for commercial vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cells are a promising option for sustainable freight and heavy goods transport: in order to also power trucks and buses in a climate-friendly way, fuel cells convert hydrogen into electrical energy for propulsion. At the same time, they must be able to withstand the diverse stresses of everyday life. Coral-HD wants to develop materials for particularly durable fuel cells.

3 | CarbonCycleMeOH: Feasibility study on methanol production from CO2 waste gases and green hydrogen. The recycling of industrial CO2 emissions with the help of green hydrogen can make an important contribution to reducing the CO2 footprint of important core industries. To this end, the BMBF has already been funding the Carbon2Chem project since 2016, which is dedicated to waste gases from the steel industry. The CarbonCycleMeOH feasibility study is now also focusing on the chemical industry. At the Bitterfeld-Wolfen Chemical Park, partners from science and industry want to investigate how waste gases from the plant can be used to produce the basic chemical methanol and its derivatives with the help of green hydrogen. The study will examine both the technical feasibility as well as possible production capacities and economic consequences.

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