Stralsund has written H2 history

Prof. Jochen Lehmann with his first FC system from Warsitz, Sunnyvale, from 1994.
Prof. Jochen Lehmann with his first FC system from Warsitz from 1994.

It all started almost forty years ago. At that time his interest in energy brought him to hydrogen. Since then Prof. Jochen Lehmann, a veteran of the German H2 industry, has achieved a lot: He initiated the installation of the complex laboratory Alternative Energy at the University of Applied Sciences Stralsund with the world’s first hydrogen storage power plant, …

… he was co-founder of the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (Deutscher Wasserstoff- und Brennstoffzellen-Verband e. V.) and, with his own curiosity and enthusiasm, he introduced hundreds of students to the fascination of hydrogen.

Looking back, he notes with a smile: “I have been driven to energy in my development.” At the age of six, his mother explained to him the enormous amount of energy in an atomic bomb. This had made a lasting impression on him, so that he later went to Leipzig to study physics. There he personally experienced Werner Heisenberg, Gustav Hertz & Co. as professors, as he describes it in a slightly amusing but also very respectful way. Heisenberg had been appointed to the chair of theoretical physics at the University of Copenhagen in 1927 when he was 25 years old.

There Lehmann also had the opportunity to listen to Linus Pauling, the US chemist and two-time Nobel Prize winner (Chemistry and Peace) in a lecture. The largest auditorium available would have been “packed,” he remembers.

After completing his vocational training, he went into industry, but “it wasn’t that exciting for me,” he continues. Therefore, he went to the former University of Maritime Navigation Warnemünde/Wustrow and entered the hydrogen sector in 1981. His topic was: “Hydrogen as a trigger for corrosion of high-strength steel” – i.e. H2 embrittlement. “That’s when I learned that hydrogen is easy to store in metals.”

When the first industrially manufactured wind power plant (220 kW) for East Germany was erected in Wustrow on Fischland on 10 October 1989, a friend said: “Now we have our own electricity on our Fischland, so all we need is a brewery, we could open a breach and make the Fischland an island again.” To Lehmann’s question: “And when there is no wind?” But the friend would always have two crates of beer in the cellar. That was the idea: Storage! “Volatile electricity without storage is not possible, but with hydrogen,” says Lehmann. So, the idea of a wind-hydrogen system was born – almost exactly 30 years ago.

read more in H2-international January 2020

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