Hydrogen Technologies

For Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft it is crucial to lay the foundation for a CO2-neutral hydrogen economy today and to optimally prepare the local economy for the coming hydrogen era. Achieving the climate targets with greenhouse gas neutrality of all energy sectors will only succeed through targeted sector coupling. By using green hydrogen - i.e. hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources - it will be possible to reduce CO2 emissions in areas where energy efficiency measures are insufficient and where direct electricity use is not technically or economically feasible or practical. Electrolysis is a central process and hydrogen the link between the electrical and the material world. Fraunhofer is a central strategic partner of politics and industry in the implementation of hydrogen technologies in practice. We offer our customers solutions and product developments along the entire process chain from material, technology and system developments for generation, storage and conversion to system integration of hydrogen and downstream products.

Competencies of the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance in the Field of Hydrogen Technologies


To produce hydrogen, water is broken down into H2 and O2 using current. Each type of electrolysis brings specific advantages, so the choice of appropriate technology may vary depending on the application scenario: The alkaline water electrolysis with liquid potash lye and the acidic membrane or also PEM electrolysis (PEM: Proton Exchange Membrane) operate at low temperatures of between 50 and 80°C. Both technologies are technologically very advanced. PEM electrolysis in particular is considered to be especially suitable for coupling with renewable energy sources, due to its compact design, good suitability for pressurized operation, and high dynamics during rapid load changes. High-temperature or steam electrolysis uses a solid oxide electrolyte made of ceramic materials and is operated at approximately 800°C. It is at a development stage of TRL 4-6, and broad field test experience is not yet available. Its decisive advantage is the very good electrical efficiency when waste heat is available on site at a temperature level of 200°C or higher. It is thus particularly suitable for coupling with industrial processes. Fraunhofer’s experts have many years of expertise and experience in all three types of electrolysis and also conduct research on niche applications such as alkaline membrane electrolysis (TRL 4-6) and seawater electrolysis (TRL 1-3).




The project should demonstrate the potential of the purple bacterium Rhodospirillum rubrum for large-scale hydrogen production using fruit- and milk-wastes as substrates. 



How can the steel industry contribute to reducing CO2 emissions? More precisely: How can CO2 emissions be reduced by up to 95 percent as efficiently as possible in the production of crude steel? 


H2-SO – Hydrogen Technologies in the Southern Upper Rhine

The H2-SO project supports the introduction of hydrogen into the different sectors of the energy system.


The storage of hydrogen is an essential component of all applications in the mobile and stationary sectors as well as in logistics. The institutes of Fraunhofer Energy Research develop and optimize materials, processes and systems for hydrogen storage. Among other things, the focus is on scalability and safe handling as well as efficient and economical integration into energy and drive systems. Various platforms, e.g. for liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC), are available for testing and technology demonstration.




One of the three hydrogen lead projects of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). With around 130 participating institutions from industry and science, H2Giga is working on the industrialization of water electrolysis.


Kopernikus-Project Power-to-X

The aim of this research cluster is to make hydrogen produced from renewable sources usable as efficiently as possible for applications in the mobility sector and in the chemical industry.




Hydrogen tanks for heavy-duty vehicles are intended to make heavy-duty transport more sustainable. In the CleanPro4HS project, manufacturing technologies are being investigated under cleanliness aspects.


In addition to the material use of hydrogen, e.g. in the chemical or steel industry, the energetic use by conversion into electrical, mechanical or thermal energy is an essential component of a future Hydrogen Economy. In its “Hydrogen Strategy”, the European Commission plans to build up 40 gigawatts of electrolysis capacity. Electrolysis plants for hydrogen production with a total capacity of 10 gigawatts are to be built in Germany by 2040. Conversely, many millions of fuel cells are needed to make hydrogen usable. In the field of fuel cell technology, Fraunhofer’s experts support customers along the entire process chain, particularly in the following fields: 1) Characterization of components, cells and stacks, 2) Characterization of systems and peripheral components, 3) Development of stacks and systems, 4) Production research for fuel cells, 5) Modeling and simulation from the microscale to the system level. In addition, our members are also working in a technology-open manner, e.g. on the use of hydrogen in combustion engines.




The goal of the project is to develop sustainable fuel synthesis processes for diesel and gasoline engines and test them under real conditions in combustion engines.

System Integration (incl. Hydrogen Safety)

To meet the global challenge of limiting global warming to below 2°C, the share of fossil fuels in global energy systems must be reduced to a minimum. Instead of fossil fuels, therefore, a sustainable energy cycle economy must be installed that is based to a considerable extent on hydrogen. In this process, systemic issues will gain in importance alongside research and development on individual components and technologies. These include, on the one hand, questions of practical use in or for the system in terms of transport options, feed-in facilities or grid infrastructure and the guarantee of their security, and, on the other hand, higher-level aspects such as the development of regulatory framework conditions, the creation of internationally uniform regulations and standards or the reduction of regulatory barriers. We support our clients both in a research context and in an advisory capacity in the form of position papers and analyses.




Hydrogen is rarely used where it is produced. Therefore, transport infrastructures are urgently needed. The lead project TransHyDE develops, evaluates and demonstrates several technologies for hydrogen transport.



The project supports the introduction of hydrogen into the energy system and the different sectors. The aim is to link a large number of relevant actors from all sectors with regard to hydrogen and fuel cell technology.



The aim of the I-H2-Hub-BW project is to survey the potential for the industrial use of hydrogen and evaluate it using an example.


Go4City (G4C)

ELO Mobility and the Fraunhofer Institute for Transport and Infrastructure Systems IVI are jointly developing a new generation of revolutionary city buses with hydrogen drive technology. 



In recent decades, the requirements for the tightness of containers, apparatus and plants have increased considerably. The aim is to develop a hydrogen sensor with the highest sensitivity.