Fuel Cell Technologies

  • A clean automotive future through improving fuel cell auxiliary components in hydrogen-pow

    Apollo SM fuel cell - Wikimedia Commons

    The European project INN-BALANCE, co-funded by the EU, started its work in January 2017 with the aim to boost hydrogen-powered mobility by increasing the efficiency and reliability of fuel cell systems for passenger cars. With an overall budget of 6.1 M€ INN-BALANCE project partners from industry and research will join efforts over the course of three years to optimize auxiliary components, called Balance of Plant (BoP), in current fuel cell based vehicles, thus cutting costs for production and maintenance.

  • Fraunhofer ISE and NREL collaborate on Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research

    Left to right (standing): Bryan Pivovar, NREL; Sunita Satyapal, U.S. DOE; Helge Pols, BMVi; Klaus Bonhoff, NOW. Left to right (sitting): Keith Wipke, NREL, Christopher Hebling, Fraunhofer ISE. ©NREL

    The two largest research organizations for renewable energy research in the world, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Germany and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory NREL have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for close collaboration on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies research. The official launch took place on Monday, October 10th at the “f-cell / World of Energy Solutions” conference in Stuttgart.

  • Fuel Cells for Hydrogen Vehicles are Becoming Longer Lasting

    The new electrocatalyst for hydrogen fuel cells consists of a thin platinum-cobalt alloy network and, unlike the catalysts commonly used today, does not require a carbon carrier. Gustav Sievers

    An international research team led by the University of Bern has succeeded in developing an electrocatalyst for hydrogen fuel cells which, in contrast to the catalysts commonly used today, does not require a carbon carrier and is therefore much more stable. The new process is industrially applicable and can be used to further optimize fuel cell powered vehicles without CO2 emissions.

  • How protons move through a fuel cell

    The experiments have been conducted with Barium ceric oxide. The crystal is non conductive in a dry state. When moisture comes in, the protons form OH-bondings and move through the crystal. Empa

    Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

    As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton conductivity is crucial for the latter; protons, i.e. positively charged hydrogen ions, are formed from hydrogen, which is used to power the fuel cell.

  • O2 Stable Hydrogenases for Applications

    Dr. James Birrell & Dr. Patricia Rodríguez Maciá. MPI CEC

    A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion and the MPI für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim an der Ruhr have succeeded in optimizing naturally occurring catalysts (hydrogenases) for application. Hydrogen gas (H2) has been proposed as an ideal energy vector. It can be produced from water, ideally using renewable energy sources and using an efficient catalyst to split water into H2 and oxygen (O2).

  • Research at Fraunhofer ISE Investigates Integrated Photovoltaic Modules for Commercial Vehicles

    Principle of the vehicle-integrated PV modules for refrigerated semitrailers developped by Fraunhofer ISE. ©Fraunhofer ISE

    Thanks to considerable cost reductions in photovoltaic modules, solar energy holds increasing appeal for use in the mobility sector. Depending on the type of application, even diesel fuel for trucks can be replaced by photovoltaics to some extent. Fraunhofer ISE has carried out and evaluated yield analyses of PV power supply for commercial vehicles, such as refrigerated transport vehicles, using real-life solar irradiance data. Based on its findings, the institute sees great potential in this field and is working together with partners from the logistics and automotive sectors to conduct research into special PV modules for use in commercial vehicles.

  • Transforming biochar into fuel gas

    SunCoal produces biocoal from biomass in a short process time. Quality control staff at the pilot-scale plant.  © SunCoal GmbH

    Until now it has been difficult to utilise the energy provided by biogenic residues resulting from landscape management waste products, garden waste and similar materials from agriculture, horticulture and food production. This is due to their high moisture content and inhomogeneous composition. In a new process, these materials are first converted into biochar and then into a fuel gas for driving an engine-operated CHP unit. The BINE-Projektinfo brochure entitled “Syngas from biocoals” (04/2017) presents the plants. These utilise a new entrained-flow gasifier that has been specially developed for small units.

  • Upgrade for Biogas

    Liquid energy reservoir: Prof. Josef Hofmann demonstrates how to extract ice-cold biomethane. This compound is a thousand times more energy rich than biogas. Hochschule Landshut

    Biogas facilities are important drivers for the energy transition, yet, for many operators, they are no longer profitable. Conversion to biomethane can make such facilities more flexible and energy efficient ─ as well as opening up new business segments to the operators. Researchers at the Landshut University of Applied Sciences and the Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences have developed just such a process. Germany is scheduled to be generating 55 to 60 per cent of its electrical power from renewable energy sources by 2025 – currently it is around a third. However, photovoltaic systems only achieve their full capacity during the day in summer, and wind energy plants are usually only viable in exposed areas. The power demand during the dark winter months outstrips the production capacity of renewable sources. To some extent, biogas plants can compensate for these fluctuations and help to secure power continuity.

  • Zeolite catalysts pave the road to decentral chemical processes Confined space increases reactivity

    Members of Prof. Lercher’s team at the Catalysis Research Center: Dr. Yue Liu, Teresa Schachtl and Daniel Melzer.  Image: Andreas Heddergott / TUM

    Fuel from waste? It is possible. But hitherto, converting organic waste to fuel has not been economically viable. Excessively high temperatures and too much energy are required. Using a novel catalyst concept, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now managed to significantly reduce the temperature and energy requirements of a key step in the chemical process. The trick: The reaction takes place in very confined spaces inside zeolite crystals.

    Ever more electricity is produced decentrally using wind, hydro and solar power plants. “It thus makes sense to decentralize chemical production, as well,” thinks Prof. Johannes Lercher, who heads the Chair of Technical Chemistry II at TU Munich. “Theoretically, any municipality could produce its own fuel or fertilizer.”