Internationalisation of sustainable hydrogen technology

Functional diagram of a PEM fuel cell.
(c) Andreas Rosin, University of Bayreuth

Green hydrogen and fuel technology are a new focus of the Export Initiative Environmental Technologies (EXI). The University of Bayreuth has recently become involved in this funding programme of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) with its “ECO-FCGen – decentralized power generator based on fuel cells” project. The aim of the project is to build two electricity generation prototypes based on green hydrogen in Germany and India. Research partners are CBC GmbH & Co. KG in Ibbenbüren and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) in Stuttgart.

“Fuel cell technology is becoming increasingly important from an economic and ecological point of view when it comes to covering the growing global demand for energy. It enables new forms of decentralized, self-sufficient, and demand-oriented power supply. At the same time, this technology opens up new opportunities for an economic and social upswing in emerging and developing countries,” explains Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Döpper, Chair of  Manufacturing & Remanufacturing Technology (LUP), the research group involved in the project at the University of Bayreuth.

Grid-independent generator sets, or gensets for short, have established themselves as the standard solution for decentralized power supply worldwide. The Bayreuth project team is seeking to build on this together with its two research partners. The aim of the ECO-FCGen project is to develop a decentralized genset prototype based on PEM fuel cells. The prototype will be designed with built-in flexibility to allow for different levels of capacity. At the same time, the basics of a circular strategy for maintenance, service, and repair of the fuel cells are to be developed. The BMUV is funding the project at the University of Bayreuth over the next three years to the tune of around € 470,000. The project is being supported by Now GmbH, which as a programme company is responsible, on behalf of BMUV, for hydrogen and fuel-cell technology for the decentralized and off-grid power supply of EXI.

A special feature of the project is that the project partners intend to set up two, almost identical prototypes of the genset. One of the two prototypes will be installed in India, the other in Germany. Each of the two generator sets will then be subjected to an endurance test and wear analysis in order to obtain comprehensive data on ongoing operation under different environmental and climatic conditions.

“By linking these insights to a circular strategy aimed at sustainability, we will be able to develop detailed recommendations for action that affect both the construction, commissioning, and maintenance of the gensets. In this way, ECO-FCGen is intended to make an important contribution to the use of green hydrogen technology for power supply – especially in countries of the Global South, where the current power grids are largely incapable of covering the growing energy requirements of companies and private households”, says Linda Schlesinger, who heads the project at the Manufacturing & Remanufacturing Technology (LUP) research group.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Döpper / Linda Schlesinger M. Sc.
Manufacturing & Remanufacturing Technology
University of Bayreuth
Phone: +49 921 78516-100

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Christian Wißler Pressestelle
Universität Bayreuth

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