Germany and America Fund Green Hydrogen Research Project with €6M Award

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) and the U.S. National Science Foundation and will jointly fund a collaborative research project of the Technical University of Darmstadt and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on improving the cost-effectiveness of green hydrogen production for a period of 3 years

The world’s first passenger train powered by fuel cells and hydrogen, the German Coradia iLint manufactured by Alstom. Linde Engineering, a German gas company is building fuelling stations for these trains in Germany. Credit: Linde Engineering website

The world’s first passenger train powered by fuel cells and hydrogen, the German Coradia iLint was manufactured by Alstom. Linde Engineering, a German gas company is building fuelling stations for these trains in Germany. Credit: Linde Engineering website

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) and the U.S. National Science Foundation have announced a collaborative award of over €600,000 to the Technical University of Darmstadt and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The grant has been awarded for a period of three years to enable the two universities to explore more efficient methods of producing green hydrogen.

This project is the first one to be supported by the NSF-DFG Lead Agency Activity in Electrosynthesis and Electrocatalysis. Known as the NSF-DFG EChem, this is a special effort to enable more collaboration between researchers based in Germany and America. It will involve the participation of Professor Andreas Klein at the Technical University of Darmstadt and Professors Hong Yang and Nicola Perry at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Green hydrogen is produced when an electrolyser splits water molecules into their component elements. In this process the electrolyser is powered by electricity produced by renewable sources, making hydrogen one of the cleanest fuels available today. However, this process is not cost-effective. This is primarily because electrolysers consume large amounts of energy to produce hydrogen, making it expensive. NSF-DFG EChem’s new research project aims to increase the efficiency and stability of electrolysis for water splitting via understanding the engineering science of new classes of electrocatalysts such as pyrochlores. Ultimately, better catalysts are needed to reduce electricity usage and meet the stability required to produce green hydrogen at a reduced cost.

Professor Hong Yang, the Alkire Chair Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Affiliate Professor of Chemistry at UIUC said: “Our society is making great strides toward a future powered by renewable sources. Green hydrogen can fuel cars and semi-trucks or be used as commodity chemicals for industrial manufacturing–but there is work to be done to ensure that green hydrogen production is viable and scalable. Hydrogen is expected to play an important role in carbon-neutral technology. [We are] happy to develop the sustainable technologies to make green hydrogen to fuel cars, and one day, our society at large.

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