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Hannover Messe: Research Centre Jülich Presents Market-Oriented Fuel Cells and Testing Methods for Hand Luggage

[13. April 2007]

Jülich, 13 April 2007 - New technologies come into being bit by bit: first, a niche has to be occupied, then the market needs to conquered. This first step has been accomplished by the direct methanol fuel cell developed at Jülich and it has found its place in a forklift that can be seen for the first time at the Hannover Messe. In addition to this, a new method for identifying liquids, e.g. at hand-luggage checks in airports, will also be presented.

Whoever transports boxes and cases is most likely used to working with pallets and forklifts. They allow heavy stocks to be moved quickly and flexibly - whether it be around the corner in the supermarket or in enormous warehouses. The only thing that continues to hold the process up today is the long time needed to charge the batteries in forklifts. At Booth G32/4 in Hall 13 at the Hannover Messe, Research Centre Jülich and its industrial partners will showcase prototypes of the first ever electrical forklift run on methanol. A fuel cell converts the chemical energy of liquid methanol directly into electric current which then powers the vehicle. Instead of lengthy charging times for batteries, the vehicle can be tanked up in a few minutes. And it can still be used in enclosed spaces because it does not produce any harmful emissions.

"With this prototype, we are now only a small step away from the commercialisation of our fuel cell technology", explains Prof. Detlef Stolten, Director at the Jülich Institute of Energy Research. The institute conducts unified research - extending from the improvement of the key components in cells and stacks right up to the development of installable fuel cell systems. "We want to keep an eye on all aspects and coordinate everything accordingly. This is the only way that we can make the complex fuel cell system commercially viable", explains Stolten. Prof. Stolten will give visitors an overview of the research approaches used at Jülich on 18 April. He will speak at 14:20 in the forum at the Group Exhibit Hydrogen and Fuel Cells (Hall 13, G26).

On the opening day, two more Jülich experts will also be giving talks. Dr. Robert Steinberger-Wilckens, Head of the Fuel Cell Project, will speak about the development of the SOFC at Jülich in the very same area (16.04., from 15:20, Hall 13, G26). Dipl.-Math. Jürgen Friedrich Hake, Head of the research area Systems Analysis and Technology Evaluation at the Institute of Energy Research will chair a podium discussion on the topic "Is energy management a prerequisite for the future of renewable energies?" Participants will include Johannes Lackmann, President of the German Renewable Energy Federation, Dr. Lutz Mez, Deputy Director of the Environmental Policy Research Centre, and Hellmuth Frey, EnBW. (Hall 12, Booth C06, Energy Forum "Life Needs Power")

What's inside? What is it? Jülich physicists can answer these questions using two new measuring techniques that can be seen at the "Innovationsland NRW" exhibit (Hall 2, C36). On the one hand, microwave fields can be used to determine the type of liquid contained in sealed bottles. Harmless drinks and liquid detergents can be distinguished from flammable solutions and acids - in a matter of seconds. The physical basis of Microwave Liquid Identification (MLI) is the electrical conductivity and polarizability of a material. Potential applications include hand-luggage checks at airports and large-scale events, as well as measuring the moisture content of building material and applications in medicine.

On the other hand, physicists at Jülich are developing highly sensitive superconducting sensors for magnetic fields - SQUIDs. They make it possible to detect cracks inside metal parts, to use the earth's magnetic field to locate natural resources and to observe the beating heart.

The events at a glance

  • 16.4., 14.30, Hall 12, Energy Forum, Booth C06, Prof. Jürgen-Friedrich Hake, podium discussion "Is energy management a prerequisite for the future of renewable energies?", with Johannes Lackmann, Dr. Lutz Mez and Hellmuth Frey

  • 16.4., 15.20, Hall 13, Group Exhibit Hydrogen and Fuel Cells G26, Dr. Steinberger-Wilckens, presentation "SOFC development at Research Centre Jülich - From materials to fuel cell systems"

  • 18.4., 14.20, Hall 13, Group Exhibit Hydrogen & Fuel Cells G26, Prof. Stolten, presentation "Research and Technological Development in the Realm of the DMFC"

Projects at a glance

Hall 13, Booth G32/4, Group Exhibit Hydrogen & Fuel Cells,

  • electrical forklift with a direct methanol fuel cell,
  • high-temperature PEFC fuel cell system
  • 20kW SOFC test device

Hall 2, C36, "Innovationsland NRW" exhibit,

  • Squids: highly sensitive magnetic sensors for geology, medicine and materials research
  • identification of materials using microwave polarisation


Just because mineral water is written on the bottle does not mean that there is mineral water inside! The new liquid sensor from Research Centre Jülich, developed by Dr. Norbert Klein, Dr. Hans-Joachim Krause and their colleagues, reveals within seconds whether the contents are flammable or hazardous. When the red lamp lights up ? as Dr. Svetlana Vitusevich demonstrates here ? then caution is advised. This method has the potential to improve hand-luggage checks in airports and simultaneously increase security. It will be demonstrated at the Hannover Messe at the "Innovationslandes NRW" exhibit, hall 2, booth C36.


With a fuel cell as their energy source, forklifts will become more flexible because lengthy charging times for batteries will no longer arise.

Press contact:

Kosta Schinarakis
Science Journalist
Corporate Communications
Research Centre Jülich, Germany
Tel. 49 2461 61-4771, Fax 49 2461 61-4666