Duisburg researchers develop the service station of the future
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Electric propulsion could move cars of the future – but what about trucks, buses and locomotives? Duisburg researchers are working on a hydrogen filling station to fuel the fuel cells of heavy vehicles. Science fiction turns science into science.
ATThe entrance to the Duisburg Center for Fuel Cell Technology (ZBT) is greeted by a quote from the French writer Jules Verne: "Water is the coal of the future." The energy of tomorrow is from Water broken down by electricity.The disassembled elements of water, hydrogen and oxygen, will ensure the energy supply of the Earth for an indefinite period. "That's what Verne wrote in his 1870 novel entitled "The Mysterious Island".
The hydrogen testing ground located at the Fuel Cell Technology Center (ZBT) site on the Duisburg campus of the University of Duisburg-Essen will contribute to concretizing Jules' ideas. Verne one day. There are containers in which hydrogen produces hydrogen from water by electrolysis, tanks reminiscent of torpedoes and a fuel pump, which will soon be powered by cars running at the same time. # 39; hydrogen. "What is built here," says Christian Spitta of the ZBT, "is not a normal hydrogen filling station, but a large laboratory in which we test how hydrogen can be produced, transported and refueled .In this form, it is unique in Germany. "
When talking about the future of the car, it is mainly about electric propulsion. Although about 200,000 battery-powered cars were on German roads by the end of 2018, they are expected to replace petrol and diesel cars in the near future. "The electric battery drive is also ideal for short trips and for small cars of the future driving independently," says Spitta. "But when it comes to heavy vehicles, buses, trucks or diesel locomotives, fuel cells produce electricity with the help of. hydrogen are the best choice. "
With such fuel cells, heavy, heavy batteries that store expensive rare earths fall. The range of buses and trucks running on hydrogen is comparable to that of diesel, explains Spitta. All the same the disadvantage of the fuel cell drive. It is that it takes relatively a lot of energy to produce hydrogen.
Until hydrogen supply is feasible, ZBT researchers still have a long way to go: "We are currently testing the best way to store hydrogen and optimize fueling in the near future. fuel, "said Spitta. "The production of hydrogen in service stations or decentralized with connected transport networks is a major challenge." Although hydrogen could be transported with LPG-like pipelines and tankers, it would be better to make it near service stations, Spitta said: "In northern Germany, Hydrogen could be produced with electricity generated by wind energy in southern Germany or southern Europe with solar energy. "
Three different electrolysis processes are currently being tested in Duisburg. In combination with the technology of service stations, it also depends on the purity of hydrogen: "We are also looking for contaminants that may contain concentrations in the electrolysis or later, via the lines and technology of the stations -service in hydrogen. " In addition, the question of energy demand When refueling, researchers must specify: "Hydrogen must be cooled during refueling to minus 40 degrees.We are currently testing different methods to achieve this temperature with as little energy as possible. "
Hydrogen will gain in importance as a global driving force, as Spitta knows. Toyota wants to increase the production of hydrogen cars in the coming years, South Korea by 2040 to produce 6.2 million fuel cell cars. And China has increased subsidies for the development of hydrogen vehicles.
It will take time before hydrogen becomes a serious alternative to diesel, gasoline and electricity. There are currently no 100 public hydrogen refueling stations in Germany. Thousands of people should be able to fill up with hydrogen cars all over the country. Jules Verne's vision remains a vision of the future.
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