Although hydrogen produced from renewable energies has been under discussion for decades as a possible alternative to fossil fuels, it has so far only played a minor role. Recently, however, there have been signs of change, so that “green” hydrogen could gain momentum in the energy sector: More and more powerful electrolysis systems are available, and the prices for these systems are falling. If, however, PEM electrolysers were to be added on a large scale, iridium could become scarce and thus more expensive and thus stand in the way of a reduction in the already considerable investment costs.
This year’s general meeting of the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, or DWV for short, took place in Erlangen, Germany, on May 12, 2017. Since there were no board elections to be held, the main issue was the association’s new focus. But even an arguably debate-worthy point such as this one was not met with great enthusiasm by DWV members. Werner Diwald, chair of the German association, outlined management’s ideas of establishing new expert committees (besides performing energy) or an internal group to further professionalize the organization.
Hydrogen is thought to be a highly efficient and an almost perfect solution for energy storage. And its importance is growing in light of the volatility of renewable energies. But the conventional and rather complicated hydrogen generation through solar energy and subsequent electrolysis reduces the efficiency of the process. An interesting alternative could be artificial photosynthesis, for which researchers all over the world are developing the methods.
Five years ago, some called carbazole the “wonder fuel” and “fuel source of the future,” although basic research hadn’t even been concluded yet. After intensive development, Hydrogenious Technologies has just presented a potential successor to the carbazole legacy: dibenzyl toluene. On Jan. 29, 2016, the company based in Erlangen, Germany, brought its first hydrogen storage unit based on this liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) into operation at the company’s headquarters. Around 150 people were present when Ilse Aigner, Bavaria‘s economy minister, inaugurated the system.
Regarding fuel cells, a challenging and important issue are still the catalysts. To a considerable degree, they determine both the performance of stacks and their price. Currently, the most different nanoparticles are being examined in the most different structural combinations. This is also true for the field of water splitting, where catalysts are employed in electrolysis systems. The jury is still out on which materials could ultimately replace platinum in both cases, so work on the required catalyst quantity continues.