Basic research and application technologies closely interlink
Airbus wants to fly emission-free by 2035, Mercedes-Benz presents the fuel cell truck, the German government lays the foundation for a global hydrogen economy – today’s plans so that tomorrow’s world will be greener.
And time is of the essence: Germany should become number one in hydrogen technologies. Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier announced this in the summer. Science and research are working at full speed. An elementary component of the energy transition is so-called green hydrogen, which is produced on the basis of green electricity. Much wind about nothing? On the contrary. “The global demand for energy and mobility must be met without producing substances that are harmful to the climate. Otherwise we cannot succeed in achieving the set climate targets, ”says Prof. Dr. Matthias Bauer from the University of Paderborn.
Broad application is required
With the National Hydrogen Strategy, the federal government has defined the framework for the future production, use and reuse of the gaseous bearer of hope. The declared aim is, among other things, the gradual conversion to green hydrogen in the areas of transport, industry and the heating market. In the medium and long term, fuel cell technology in particular must find widespread use in the mobility sector, says Bauer. “Decarbonization – that is, the significant reduction in carbonaceous energy sources – is crucial for a fundamental structural change in public passenger transport, in private cars and in transport logistics.”
Paderborn would like to occupy a prominent position both in the research and in the development of this technology. “We not only have strong basic scientific research at the university, but also application-related mobility researchers, software and AI experts,” says Bauer.
As a drive for electric cars, hydrogen is an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional fuels such as gasoline or diesel. The scientist explains: “My team and I are currently researching how hydrogen can be generated as efficiently as possible and, above all, resource-saving on the basis of sunlight. Together with oxygen, it can be converted relatively easily and directly into electrical energy. The waste product is water, from which hydrogen can then be recovered with the help of catalysts and electricity. So a green cycle ”.
According to the federal government, the national hydrogen consumption is currently around 55 terawatt hours. For the most part, however, as blue hydrogen, it comes from fossil raw materials and is therefore associated with considerable CO 2 emissions. “That has to change urgently. Only green hydrogen is really sustainable, ”is Bauer’s assessment.
Germany must stay on the ball
A feasibility study recently announced by the BMBF for a German-Australian supply chain is now intended to promote the development of a global green hydrogen economy. Bauer: “This not only results in new sales markets for German companies. That would also be of great importance for our science. Germany can position itself worldwide as a country with outstanding top research and as a technological market leader. In addition to the mobility sector, green hydrogen is of particular interest for industry, in the production of chemicals or plastics and in the context of power-to-heat, i.e. for heating. However, many of these technologies must be further improved through research and developed to industrial maturity. ”At the same time, the chemist points out: “The efforts of the Federal Government and the fact that numerous countries now have a hydrogen strategy show once again that the energy transition has now become the dominant topic in politics, business and science. That is why we as scientists see ourselves called upon to implement these ideas and plans that are fundamentally important for society as a whole – and to do so quickly so that Germany can really take on a pioneering role.
Nina Reckendorf, Press, Communication and Marketing department
How can we live more sustainably and shape the future on our planet together? This is what the sixth “European Sustainability Week” (ENW) will be about from September 20 to 26. When it comes to sustainable living, science is also in demand. In a special on the ENW, we always present exciting research projects by Paderborn researchers who deal with a sustainability topic on Tuesdays.
The University of Paderborn participates in the “European Sustainability Week” with various campaigns. Find out more at go.upb.de/enw2020 and # UPB4ausDenken.
Prof. Dr. Matthias Bauer
Inorganic Chemistry – Bauer Working Group
Chairholder – Inorganic Chemistry of Sustainable Processes