Karlsruhe Institute of Technology: KIT conducts research in all three lead projects of the federal government

Green hydrogen can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is a central key element on the way to Germany’s climate neutrality by 2045. For example, hydrogen can be used as a fuel, auxiliary and raw material in industry and can be converted into electricity and heat using fuel cells in order to supply and heat houses with electricity . In addition, hydrogen can be used as fuel or as a raw material in the production of synthetic fuels for trucks, trains, ships and planes. Together with partners from industry, science and associations from all over Germany, the KIT scientists are working in the three lead projects to significantly further develop the necessary technologies: H₂Mare is investigating possibilities

“If we want to massively reduce CO₂ emissions and master the energy transition, hydrogen is an indispensable tool. With decades of experience in the field of hydrogen, which ranges from basic research to very specific applications, KIT makes decisive contributions here, ”says the President of KIT, Professor Holger Hanselka. “We bring this know-how to the lead projects of the federal government and create new synergies together with the actors involved from research, politics and society so that solutions can be found quickly.”

H₂Mare: hydrogen production at sea

Offshore wind farms, i.e. offshore wind turbines, are an important addition to onshore wind farms and are currently being promoted at high speed around the world. Due to the continuously good wind conditions at sea and the high number of full load hours, the energy yield offshore is significantly higher than on land. The H₂Mare lead project creates the basis for using offshore wind energy directly without being connected to the grid, for example to produce green hydrogen via water electrolysis. The aim is to reduce the cost of green hydrogen and increase its profitability. “At KIT we are researching how we can use the green hydrogen generated on an offshore platform to produce easily transportable products such as liquefied methane, liquid hydrocarbons, methanol and ammonia, for the chemical industry or for fuels, ”says Professor Roland Dittmeyer from the Institute for Micro Process Engineering (IMVT) at KIT. “In order to test the dynamic operation of Power-to-X systems coupled directly to offshore wind farms, we use our Power-to-X system complex in the Energy Lab 2.0 at KIT.” The transportable, container-based research platform e XPlore, the The KIT developed together with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is also intended to enable the first realistic test operation of a complete Power-to-X process chain in a maritime environment.

The KIT is involved in H₂Mare with the IMVT, which also coordinates one of the four joint projects with “PtX-Wind”, and the Engler-Bunte-Institut (EBI).

TransHyDE: Transport solutions for green hydrogen

Hydrogen is only rarely used where it is produced. In order to meet the demand in Germany, most of it has to be transported or imported from windy and sunny regions. That is why the TransHyDE lead project researches and develops transport technologies and infrastructures for green hydrogen. “Liquid hydrogen, while being extremely pure, also has the highest energy density. At KIT, we use the energy and the cold of liquid hydrogen by combining them with electrotechnical applications, such as in energy transport with high-temperature superconductors or in the drive trains of vehicles, ”says Professor Tabea Arndt from the Institute for Technical Physics (ITEP) des KIT. The use of high-temperature superconductors enables energy-efficient to transport electrical energy and chemical energy in parallel. “We also develop safety strategies for materials and handling beyond industrial systems,” says Arndt. In the KIT facilities, the scientists can research and implement the entire chain from hydrogen liquefaction to energy-related applications in electrical engineering and fuel cell heating.

The KIT is coordinated with the Institute for Technical Physics (ITEP), which coordinates the joint project “AppLHy!” For liquid hydrogen transport within TransHyDE, as well as with the Institute for Applied Materials – Materials Science (IAM-WK), the Institute for Thermal Energy Technology and Safety ( ITES) and the Electrotechnical Institute (ETI).

H₂Giga: Series production of electrolysers for hydrogen generation

Green hydrogen can be produced by electrolysis with renewable energies and used as an energy carrier in a variety of ways. However, the production of electrolysers, i.e. systems for generating hydrogen using electricity, is complex and cost-intensive. The lead project H₂Giga wants to enable their serial and cost-effective production in order to meet Germany’s demand for green hydrogen. Within the technology platform, KIT is involved in two joint projects.

In the “HTEL-Stacks – Ready for Gigawatt” network, those involved want to develop stacks, i.e. cell stacks, for high-temperature electrolysis and the associated production processes and systems. “Electrolysis at high temperatures requires less cost-intensive electrical energy and the additional thermal energy requirement can be covered by the heat generated in the cell. With high-temperature electrolysis, efficiencies of up to 100 percent can be achieved, current systems already achieve over 80 percent, ”says Dr. André Weber from the Institute for Applied Materials – Electrochemical Technologies (IAM-ET) at KIT. “At KIT, we use electrochemical and electron microscopic methods to analyze the performance and service life of the high-temperature cells and stack components.

The second group “Stack Scale-up – Industrialization of PEM Electrolysis” develops new stack technologies and large-scale production processes for low-temperature electrolysis. This electrolysis via polymer electrolyte membrane cells (PEM cells) is characterized by low operating temperatures and a high power density. “At KIT, we characterize and model these electrochemically and fluidically. With the help of model-based optimizations, we then want to develop new, more powerful stack designs, ”says Weber. The group is coordinated by Schaeffler AG.

In addition to the IAM-ET, the KIT Laboratory for Electron Microscopy (LEM) and the Institute for Fluid Mechanics (ISTM) are involved in the projects.

Background: ideas competition “Hydrogen Republic of Germany”

With the invitation to tender for the ideas competition “Hydrogen Republic of Germany”, the BMBF promoted Germany’s entry into the green hydrogen economy last year. On the basis of the ideas and suggestions received, the three lead projects on the central challenges of the green hydrogen economy were formed.