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Green hydrogen: New research focus at Hof University of Applied Sciences

With funding from the Hightech Agenda Bayern, Professors Tobias Plessing, Tobias Schnabel and Jörg Krumeich and Deputy Institute Director Andy Gradel are currently closing a gap in the research landscape on hydrogen technologies for the future at Hof University of Applied Sciences. Their research focuses on the production of green hydrogen.

Diagram of ammonia splitting; Source: Hof University of Applied Sciences;

With the Hightech Agenda Bavaria and the Hightech Agenda Plus, the Free State of Bavaria is investing a total of around 3.5 billion euros in a technology offensive that is unique in Germany. Targeted innovation impulses throughout the state are intended to generate a broad impact from which people everywhere in Bavaria are to benefit, according to the Bavarian state government’s goal. Hof University of Applied Sciences, which defines itself as a greentech university, sees this as a mission and has established a new field of research with hydrogen research.

Energy carrier of the future

The focus here is on ammonia splitting, an important technology for hydrogen transport and hydrogen storage, i.e. the key to imported hydrogen

This is something on which our future security of supply and resilience depend.”

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Valentin Plenk, Vice President Research and Development

He added: “The Institute for Water and Energy Management at Hof University of Applied Sciences (iwe) will look at intermediate gas purification here and develop processes and equipment for this step to make ammonia splitting feasible on an industrial scale.” In this way, large quantities of the sustainable energy carrier can be brought to Germany from sunny countries such as Namibia, for example, and utilized here. In addition, the company is looking into the production of suitable catalysts for these applications. “We also see potential in the photocatalytic treatment of fresh water using sunlight. Treated water is a core aspect for hydrogen production, this process can do this completely energy self-sufficient,” says Prof. Dr. Tobias Plessing. Burner technologies and other applications will also be further researched under the new focus.

Prof. Dr. Tobias Plessing (left) and Dr. Andy Gradel from the Institute for Water and Energy Management at Hof University of Applied Sciences (iwe); photos: Hof University of Applied Sciences and private;

Expertise from several research areas

The expertise for these challenging research goals is undoubtedly there: Prof. Dr. Tobias Plessing and Dr. Andy Gradel are scientific and deputy director of the Institute for Water and Energy Management at Hof University of Applied Sciences (iwe). Together with research partners, they have already founded BtX energy GmbH, which is currently a technology leader in hydrogen production from liquid manure, dung and other waste materials. Prof. Dr. Jörg Krumeich is an expert in coating technology and was consulted for the new research field for the coating of new catalysts. Prof. Dr. Tobias Schnabel, in turn, was appointed Professor of Urban Water Resource Management this year and has focused his research on photocatalytic processes for water treatment for many years.

Research in Bayreuth and Hof complement each other – doctorates possible

It is now widely known that Bavaria is a pioneer in hydrogen technology. In addition to export technologies, the state’s own energy supply and the development of utilization paths for the energy carrier of the future are also important. “Complementary to the research fields of the University of Bayreuth in electrolysis, fuel cell and storage technology, the Upper Franconian research landscape is now complemented by the aforementioned topics in a meaningful way,” says Dr. Andy Gradel. Also with a view to the Future Energy Lab in Wunsiedel, a real laboratory for hydrogen technologies and other energy topics, the Upper Franconia competence location is to be at the forefront of the planned hydrogen turnaround. The new research area will also enable doctoral studies at Hof University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with Bayreuth University.

Upper Franconia at the forefront of the hydrogen revolution

“We are pleased to now be able to put the long-planned research focus on hydrogen applications into practice thanks to the Free State’s technology offensive,” said University President Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Jürgen Lehmann. He continues

In order to be able to implement the urgently needed energy turnaround, we need innovative and climate-friendly technologies and scientifically trained young specialists faster than ever. The close cooperation of our university with the University of Bayreuth also offers great leverage here to master the challenges and secure progress.”

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Jürgen Lehmann, President of the University

Rainer Krauß

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