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Taming hydrogen

From left to right: The nominees Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Arlt, former Chair of Thermal Process Technology at FAU , Prof. Dr. Peter Wasserscheid, Chair of Chemical Reaction Engineering at FAU and director of the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy (HI ERN), and FAU alumnus and managing director of Hydrogenious Dr. Daniel Teichmann. (Image: Ansgar Pudenz)
Ansgar Pudenz

FAU scientists nominated for 2018 German Future Prize

Prof. Peter Wasserscheid, Prof. Wolfgang Arlt and Dr.-Ing. Daniel Teichmann, CEO of FAU spin-off Hydrogenious Technologies GmbH, have been nominated for the 2018 German Future Prize (German President’s Award for Innovation in Science and Technology). Simply being nominated for this award honours the ground-breaking achievements of these FAU scientists in research and development into safe hydrogen storage and successfully getting it ready for the market as a contribution to a sustainable energy system. The jury will be choosing the winners on 28 November and Federal President Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier will present the 2018 prize in the evening.

Hydrogen – the energy source of the future

Hydrogen is gaining significance in a CO2-free energy system. In terms of its weight, hydrogen carries almost three times as much energy as petrol, it can be burned directly or converted into electricity in fuel cells thus serving as an emission-free fuel for the mobility of tomorrow. It could also become a decisive factor in offsetting the fluctuations in output of photovoltaic plants or wind farms that are dependent on weather and the time of day by using efficient storage technologies and a global energy supply network.

However, hydrogen gas is problematic. It is highly explosive and for storage and transportation it has either to be cooled in liquid form to temperatures below -250°C or stored as a gas at very high pressures of up to 700 bar to ensure a sufficient ratio between energy density and volume. Supplying hydrogen under these conditions over a wide area would require complex and very costly new infrastructure.

LOHC for safe transportation of hydrogen

The researchers from Erlangen are pursuing their vision of using hydrogen instead of fossil fuels and thus making use of existing supply infrastructure with their venture. Dr. Peter Wasserscheid from FAU and director of the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy, part of Forschungszentrum Jülich, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Arlt, former holder of the Chair of Thermal Process Engineering at FAU and Dr. Daniel Teichmann, FAU alumnus and managing director of Hydrogenious Technologies GmbH have now found a means of binding hydrogen in a non-explosive and non-toxic carrier fluid and releasing it when required.

The carrier substance is left behind as as a ‘liquid refillable bottle’ and can be refilled with hydrogen at any time. This so-called LOHC (liquid organic hydrogen carrier) technology offers an efficient and completely safe method for storing and transporting hydrogen, not only as a fuel in regional transportation networks, but also for transporting renewable energy without losses worldwide – for example from thinly-populated regions with good conditions for generating wind or solar power to densely-populated and highly industrialised regions.

Nominated for the 2018 German Future Prize

Hydrogenious Technologies GmbH, a spin-off of FAU, has already won several awards for its groundbreaking LOHC technology such as the German Business Innovation Award, the Energy Transition Award of the German Energy Agency and the Bavarian Founder Award. The nominations for the German President’s Award for Innovation in Science and Technology were officially announced on 12 September by the Office of the Federal President at a presentation in the Deutsches Museum in Munich.

‘The German Future Prize is awarded for outstanding achievements in the fields of technology and innovation’, says Peter Wasserscheid on behalf of the entire team in Erlangen. ‘Even being nominated is a great honour and recognition of our work. It would be fantastic, of course, if the jury decided to award our project with the prize in November’.

The other contenders for the German Future Prize worth 250,000 euros are two teams from Baden-Wuerttemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia, who have been nominated for their innovative work in the fields of design and manufacturing and medical substance research.

Federal President Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier will be presenting the 2018 German Future Prize during a gala ceremony in the presence of all nominees.

Hydrogenious Technologies GmbH

Hydrogenious Technologies GmbH was established in 2013 as a spin-off of Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg with the aim of marketing the LOHC technology. Partnerships with the companies Anglo American, Clariant, Sasol, MAN, and Broad Ocean Motors, means that Hydrogenious Technologies has a wealth of economic, strategic and financial resources at its disposal. The company, which is based in Erlangen, has 65 employees. Hydrogenious Technologies is a global pioneer in the field of hydrogen storage technologies based on liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC) and builds plants for the hydrogen logistics industry and fuelling stations based on LOHC technology.

The German Future Prize

The courage to think in new ways and implementing these ideas is behind the German Future Prize that was founded around 20 years ago. With this prize, the Federal President awards excellent scientific innovations every year that show economic potential and create new jobs. The German Future Prize is worth 250,000 euros.

Further information

Further information is available at deutscher-zukunftspreis.de

Prof. Dr. Peter Wasserscheid
Phone: +49 9131 8527420
peter.wasserscheid@fau.de