Fuel Cells

Fuel cells are a promising technology for the future energy supply. The Fraunhofer Energy Alliance develops new system components both for fossil and renewable fuels like ethanol, biogas or hydrogen. These include electrode membranes for high-temperature fuel cells as well as polymer electrolyte membranes and electrocatalysts for direct alcohol or reformate fuel cells.

Our member institutes conduct research on innovative testing procedures, especially for the automotive application of fuel cells and offer customers appropriate measuring services. A further field of research are systems for the (electro)chemical provision of hydrogen.

Competences »Fuel Cells« | Fraunhofer Energy Alliance


Fuel cells convert chemical energy from fuels such as hydrogen, methanol or natural gas into electrical energy. Due to its high efficiency, the fuel cell plays a key role in future conversion into electrical energy. The Energy Alliance presents optimization potentials for design, material selection and operating strategy and works on the continuous further development of fuel cell components, stacks and systems, for example through rapid ageing tests for PEM/SOFC fuel cells. Specially developed test stands for system components are available for detailed tests and forecasts. The use of energy sources such as natural gas and methanol, but also ethanol and synthetic hydrocarbons, in most cases requires reforming technology to convert these fuels into hydrogen-containing gas. The Energy Alliance is working on catalyst and reactor technology and system designs for reforming technology. With regard to a stronger focus on sector coupling, especially with hydrogen as an energy carrier, the so-called reversible fuel cell is also an important technology. This involves the storage of energy as hydrogen by electrolysis using the same system in which the hydrogen is converted back into electricity in the fuel cell.




Aircraft galleys: The goal of the GETPower project series is the further development of the already existing reformer system to achieve an optimized integration of the entire system into a standard trolley.



It is the main objective of the FCGEN project to develop a complete, fuel cell-based, 3kW auxiliary power unit and to demonstrate the proof of concept in a real environment on board of a truck.



The project aimed at the development of a new innovative highly efficient and fuel flexible micro-scale biomass CHP technology consisting of a small-scale fixed-bed updraft gasifier, a compact gas cleaning system and a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC).

Material Development for Fuel Cells

As part of the development of materials for fuel cells, Fraunhofer researchers are working on the membrane development of PEM fuel cells and on the further development of SOFC materials and catalysts. An important goal here is to extend the service life and reduce the costs of the module components. Radically new approaches are also being pursued here, such as the production of multifunctional components or the use of new manufacturing concepts. In addition, an expert network for the development of scalable production processes was initiated, which contributes to the development of cost-effective production technologies and manufacturing concepts.



Joining Technology

The Fraunhofer IKTS develops brazing and soldering materials as well as brazing technologies for high temperature applications such as solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), sensor components, ceramic reactors and thermoelectric.



The Fraunhofer ICT aims at standardizing measurement regulations for the physical characterization of metallic and graphitic bipolar plates in order to make it easier for end users to check the quality of the materials.