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Hydrogen as energy storage

Hydrogen is a widely usable source of energy. It can be stored and transported over long distances, processed into liquid fuels or used directly as a fuel with the help of fuel cells. Hydrogen can be obtained through the electrochemical separation of water – water electrolysis.

Jülich-based scientists are primarily involved in polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysis. In contrast to alkaline water electrolysis (which uses a potassium hydroxide solution as the electrolyte), this process uses a proton-conducting membrane as the electrolyte, thus avoiding the need for dubious chemicals. In addition, PEM electrolysers have a simpler system set-up and produce hydrogen with significantly higher current densities and efficiency levels. As such, they are particularly well suited to produce renewable energy in a system with power peaks. In future, PEM electrolysis should make it possible to produce large quantities of hydrogen from ‘green’ electricity. At present, this is still too expensive due to the high equipment costs. IEK-3 scientists are thus developing alternative, cost-effective materials. They are also working on an electricity and gas market design to supply the German road transport system with hydrogen.

In order to store hydrogen and transport it to the place where it is needed, IEK-11 (HI ERN) scientists have developed a special process: an organic carrier fluid (Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier, or LOHC for short), which can absorb over 650 litres of hydrogen per litre, allowing the chemically bound hydrogen to be stored safely and transported cost-effectively.

Institutes:

Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK)

Electrochemical process engineering (IEK-3)
Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy Production (HI ERN / IEK-11)