Admittedly, this picture is a far cry from the current reality and comes with decent help state of the art-character for it. But this utopia is not as impossible as it might seem improbable. In just a few decades, a large part of the energy requirements can be covered with an almost inexhaustible element and this fantasy can become a reality to some extent. We are talking about hydrogen. Power generation is made possible by the very simple principle of a fuel cell. Similar to a battery, chemical energy is generated and converted into electrical energy. Electrons are exchanged between the hydrogen and oxygen starting materials via a redox reaction, resulting in a flow of electricity and only water being produced as a clean reaction product. This type of power generation is not new.
fantasy come true?
As early as the end of the 19th century, author Julius Verne fantasized about power generation based only on the elements of water in his book The Mysterious Island. “Water is the coal of the future,” she says. Although the fuel cell was invented in 1839 by German chemist Christian Friedrich Schönbein and the potential for generating new energy was clear, this discovery received no further attention. At that time, people were far from high technologies, modern mobility or an impending climate catastrophe.
Back in the modern era, the tide has turned. The fact that alternative energy generation patterns and mobility transformation are inevitable, has long been demonstrated through the language of policy debates and the nascent branch of industry with all kinds of innovative efforts. Although about 80 percent of global energy requirements are still currently met from ancient sources with a negative connotation, the signs are for farewell, or rather, change. It is the great problems of our time that have loomed over the past few centuries and are now compelling action – whether it is climate change or the excessive consumption of resources. Once again, if you will, humanity is at a turning point. Reliance on alternative energy generation from hydrogen initially seemed more than reasonable.
Many advantages of gas and problems of transformation
Hydrogen deposits are almost inexhaustible. Three-quarters of the galaxy is made up of the element, and it also makes up the most common atoms on Earth. Unlike internal combustion engines, fuel cells operate silently and without emissions. The water from the reaction does not further pollute the environment and can shut down an extensive cycle. Compared to the electronic mobility, gas grades promise longer range and shorter fuel pump stops. Hydrogen transport can also be handled more easily over long distances compared to other energy transfers. However, there is still a lot of work to be invested in order to make the transition a success. Especially when it comes to proper infrastructure and green production.
On the one hand there is the problem of production. The technology has not yet reached the level required to produce clean “green” gas on a large scale. While manufacturing processes such as energy-intensive, carbon dioxide-rich steam reforming appear counterproductive, water splitting electrolysis also requires large amounts of energy. The spread of renewable resources in Germany is not yet sufficient to achieve this in a sustainable way. Although individual projects have confirmed that hydrogen can be produced in a climate-neutral manner, production has so far been associated with high costs. For investors, this has sometimes been a sufficient deterrent. There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of infrastructure. In Germany, there are 95 gas stations currently serving (As of June 2022) hydrogen, compared to about 14,500 conventional tank options. Moreover, both production facilities and distribution methods will have to be expanded extensively and significantly in the future. After all, existing pipeline systems, such as those available for the supply of natural gas, can be used.
A fundamental change in Germany
Despite all the initial difficulties, there is hardly any doubt that hydrogen is likely to act as a major factor in energy transfer and mobility. Last but not least, this underscores the number of government subsidies, moves in research and the emergence of new hydrogen centers over the past few years. Even political debates about energy transition rarely happen without the word hydrogen Outside. There was rarely a striking commonality in the platform of the major parties.
The Bundestag long ago formulated a national hydrogen strategy. Funding around €700 million should be available through 2025 for research already planning large-scale projects such as climate-friendly offshore production facilities. The potential for power generation isn’t just about mobility. All branches of industry – whether it is the chemical industry or the production of raw materials – as well as power plants to generate electricity and heat can benefit from popular gas in the future and play a crucial role in shaping the path to a green future. For example, only emission-intensive steel production would become climate neutral in this way. The fact that fuel cells work reliably even in extreme situations has been proven by their use in submarines or space flights. On the issue of costs, it should become easier in the future to build more H2 systems and move forward with the mobility transition accordingly. The Federation of Industry Hydrogen Council estimates that hydrogen filling stations will be cheaper than electronic charging stations in this decade. The same applies to the production of fuel cells. If industry and research are successful in setting the course for more H2 technologies and their distribution in the near future, experts are sure that green hydrogen “Made in Germany” could become a staple German specialty.
The seminar provides an overview of all the essentials and important connections for implementation and development Hydrogen, the hydrogen economy and hydrogen-based propulsion systems in vehicles From the OHM Vocational School. The set of courses was created as part of the current ESF project “Qualification of Working Persons” and is funded by the same project. With this, our institute expands its repertoire with another important element of the modern era and thus offers an offer to develop the competence that is required at the moment and will become even more important in the future.