StacIE project at TU Ilmenau: Innovative process for green hydrogen

The TU Ilmenau is launching the StacIE research project, which aims to make the production of hydrogen as an energy carrier more environmentally friendly and cost-effective. Currently, about 96 percent of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels - environmentally harmful carbon dioxide is released. If, on the other hand, renewable energies are used, hydrogen can be produced without CO2. But the production of green hydrogen is still expensive. The four-year StacIE project is part of the H2Giga lead project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, which aims at the industrial series production of electrolysers for the production of hydrogen. The goal: large quantities of the clean energy carrier and drastically reduced manufacturing costs.


Hydrogen is seen by many as the energy carrier of the future. The most abundant chemical element in the universe, hydrogen is readily available and clean because it is found in water. And it can be used in a variety of ways: as a fuel for fuel cell vehicles and in heavy-duty transport, in rail and marine transport, or as a raw material for the chemical or steel industries.

The conventional method of producing hydrogen is the so-called steam reforming of natural gas. The process is technically mature and relatively inexpensive, but it has one serious disadvantage: carbon dioxide is produced, which escapes into the atmosphere and is harmful to the climate. But hydrogen can also be produced with electricity. If renewable energy sources are used for water electrolysis with electricity, no carbon dioxide is released. Green hydrogen is therefore seen as the key element that could replace environmentally harmful fossil fuels in the long term. The goal is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Germany by 55 percent by 2030 and by 95 percent by 2050.


Production of CO2-free hydrogen by proton exchange membrane electrolysis

Projektträger Jülich i.A. des BMBF
The TU Ilmenau wants to help make the production of the energy carrier hydrogen environmentally friendly and more cost-effective

The new process used to produce CO2-freehydrogen isproton exchange membrane electrolysis. In this process, water is broken down into hydrogen and oxygen with the help of electric current. The advantages of PEM electrolysis are that it is flexible and can respond within milliseconds to the large jumps in electricity production from wind and solar plants. In addition, unlike other types of electrolysis, PEM electrolysis does not require the use of chemicals of concern. The big disadvantage is the high price. Due to the complex manufacturing of the plants in individual production, the costs are high and have to be passed on to the hydrogen price. In addition, the precious metals used as catalyst material increase the price further.

Use of stack technology

In the StacIE project ("Stack Scale-up - Industrialization PEM Electrolysis"), the TU Ilmenau, together with nine other project partners from industry and research, is striving to upscale PEM electrolysis to gigawatt scale. Ambitious goals: Efficiency above 75 percent, a longer lifetime of more than 80,000 hours, lower manufacturing costs and production processes suitable for large-scale production. The research team led by Prof. Andreas Bund, head of the Group of Electrochemistry and Electroplating at Ilmenau University of Technology, wants to contribute to the further development of so-called stack technology. In stacks, individual electrolysis cells are combined into a unit and electrically connected in series to form a cell stack. The manufacturing process is to be simplified and the components for the electrolysers made more efficient. In the future, hydrogen produced efficiently, cheaply and sustainably in this way could be fed into a Germany-wide distribution network for hydrogen, according to the goal of the federal lead project H2Giga.



Prof. Andreas Bund

Head of the Group Electrochemistry and Electroplating
+49 3677 69-3107