JA-Gastechnology, based in the German state of Lower Saxony, is planning to open a hydrogen testing lab this spring. The company’s founder, Jens Asmuth, decided it was time to branch out beyond the core business of calibrating emissions testing equipment and focus more on alternative fuel engines. Construction started last summer. It was said that the facility would house a pressure and an environmental test chamber to determine the mechanical strength, exhaust gas behavior and lifetime of tanks and analyze valves and sensors.
Never before had a commercial vehicle show featured as many electric models as the 2018 edition of the IAA Commercial Vehicles, which took place from Sept. 20 to 27 in Hanover, Germany. Most exhibitors that had a booth at the event displayed battery-electric or, at the very least, hybrid trucks or buses. Vehicles powered by hydrogen or fuel cells were few and far between, though compared to past shows, their number had jumped up quite a bit. And, as a sign of how much promise they hold, large market players used the time to make some major announcements.
Few expected something to be different after the change at the top of the German transportation ministry. The replacement of Alexander Dobrindt by Andreas Scheuer didn’t usher in a new era at the department. It is true that Scheuer is four years younger than his predecessor. But both belong to the same political party, and Scheuer’s time as head of the ministry has likewise been little more than an exercise in cozying up to the auto industry. Chances for a real turnaround in the transportation sector are getting slimmer by the day.
In 18 years of managing the f-cell show, its organizers have seen many trends, and businesses, come and go. Some companies that used to exhibit at the event no longer exist. Some of the speakers at past events have worked for multiple employers in the meantime. And before last year’s decision to move back to Stuttgart’s Haus der Wirtschaft, the show itself took place on the city’s showgrounds.
Following a three-year break, the National Organization Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology held another NIP General Assembly between Dec. 5 and 6 last year. About 400 people came to Berlin to catch up on the latest developments regarding the National Innovation Program Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology, also known as NIP 2, or provide others with information about the same.
On Oct. 16, 2018, the eMove360° show in Munich was no longer an event that attracted mainly fans of battery-powered vehicles. For the first time, it featured a conference on fuel cell cars, attended by around three dozen people. However, the main question during this eMove360° Fuel Cell Conference, which took place at the same time as the show, was not whether battery or fuel cell vehicles would make it on the market but if and how the technologies could be combined.
Plans are becoming more concrete in Germany’s northernmost region, where communities are rapidly taking the lead in the production of renewable hydrogen and the creation a future-proof transportation system co-designed by citizens. In March 2017, project company GP Joule, based in Reußenköge, Germany, published a feasibility study to show what this renewable system could look like
Industrial gases producer Linde has a new hydrogen production system in Leuna, providing more evidence of the company’s shift in strategic focus. On Oct. 24, 2018, Linde announced that it would add another hydrogen liquefier to its chemical manufacturing facilities in Saxony-Anhalt. The unit, scheduled to come online in 2021, would double production capacity to ten metric tons of hydrogen a day and would, like the old one, be linked to the regional pipeline system
Many German fuel cell fans are still angry at Sascha Kühn, mostly not because his company’s kraftwerk fuel cell charger has yet to be delivered but because Kühn has practically disappeared from the public eye. Months have passed since there was some kind of statement about if and how the original idea of manufacturing small high-temperature fuel cells with the help of crowdfunding could still be brought to market.
SFC Energy, which has so far focused on methanol-powered fuel cells, intends to branch out into the hydrogen fuel market. In November 2018, the company based in Brunnthal, Germany, announced that it had signed an agreement with adKor to develop and license the required fuel cell know-how. The deal reached with adKor’s chief executive, Hartmut Kordus, will grant SFC Energy non-exclusive access to the technology of three former fuel cell companies: FutureE, Heliocentris and P21.