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, …

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Iceland: From pioneer to laggard

Borehole for geothermal energy in Iceland
Borehole for geothermal energy in Iceland, © ON Power, Iceland.

Iceland was quick to recognise the opportunities offered by hydrogen and fuel cells for the transport sector – but has unfortunately made little of them to date. At the end of the last millennium, the Nordic island was regarded as a pioneer in the field of hydrogen, because it considered the vision of a sustainable hydrogen economy to be quite feasible.

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New call for FC forklifts

BZ forklift fleet from Still near Carrefour in Vendin-Le-Vieil, France.
BZ forklift fleet from Still near Carrefour in Vendin-Le-Vieil, France, © Carrefour

For years there has been a discrepancy in the hydrogen sector between North America and Europe: Over on the other side of the Atlantic, fuel cell-powered industrial trucks are enjoying great popularity, while their number in Germany is more in keeping with homoeopathic doses.

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BDR wants to install 400 H2 boilers

 H2 boiler without CO2 from Remeha.
H2 boiler, © BDR Thermea

The BDR Thermea Group commissioned a hydrogen-powered boiler at the end of June 2019. The pilot plant, which was developed at the BDR-Thermea competence centre for research and development in Italy, is located in Rozenburg, the Netherlands, and is supplied with sustainably produced hydrogen by the regional gas network operator Stedin, who also initiated the project.

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Hydrogen for aviation

Fuel cell propulsion systems are not only being developed for unmanned aircraft, hydrogen is also increasingly becoming a topic in passenger transport.

In 2018, the Element One project was launched to transport four passengers over distances of 500 to 5,000 km, ©
HES Energy Systems, Singapore

Fuel cell propulsion systems are not only being developed for unmanned aircraft, hydrogen is also increasingly becoming a topic in passenger transport. The US space agency NASA, for example, together with the engineering school of the University of Illinois, is constructing electric aircraft using liquid hydrogen and fuel cells.

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Hydrogen as an export product

Up to now Australia has exported mainly liquid natural gas and coal - in the future also hydrogen
Up to now Australia has exported mainly liquid natural gas and coal – in the future also hydrogen, © BHP Billiton: Coal transport Australia Rail

The city of Perth in southwestern Australia was already one of twelve cities worldwide at the beginning of the 21st century that tested fuel cell buses in local transport. After that, however, the energy-rich country no longer emerged as a major promoter of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. And why should it? After all, the country has huge reserves of fossil fuels, precious metals and rare earth metals. But is that really reason enough not to look for alternatives?

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Effect of hydrogen on materials

Stress-strain curves of hollow samples filled with hydrogen or nitrogen, with an internal pressure of 70 bar, tested at a draw-off rate of 3.5 µm/min.
Stress-strain curves of hollow samples filled with hydrogen or nitrogen, with an internal pressure of 70 bar, tested at a draw-off rate of 3.5 µm/min.

Atomic hydrogen partly diffuses into materials during production and operation. If this results in degradation of the material properties, the term hydrogen embrittlement is used. The Fraunhofer IWM has set itself the task of better understanding and mastering such chemical processes and their consequences. For this purpose, a new laboratory for material qualification for hydrogen applications has now been set up.

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Broad support for Efficiency First

Logos of German political parties
Logos of German political parties.

The idea of using hydrogen as energy storage entered the political mainstream a long time ago. The coalition agreement between the Christian and the Social Democrats in Germany includes several direct references to hydrogen and fuel cells, while a few other parties have made the technologies part of their platforms as well.

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