New ZBT Hydrogen Test Field

Model of planned H2 test array, © ZBT

ZBT based in Duisburg in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia has just received approval for four individual publicly funded projects that will make it possible to set up a unique hydrogen array and develop new inspection and testing methods for hydrogen infrastructures. These projects will expand the technology portfolio of an organization which has just celebrated its 15th anniversary and enable it to establish partnership initiatives focused on user and infrastructure scenarios.

ZBT is now planning to set up the field on its premises within the next two years to provide opportunities for exploring hydrogen infrastructure potential in industry-research partnerships. The testing and inspection platform that is being developed could soon be used in collaborative efforts between manufacturers, suppliers and research institutes to advance the aim of safe and secure, nationwide and, above all, inexpensive hydrogen supply.


Subproject L1 of Carbon2Chem, which has received financial support from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, offers a thorough investigation of systems (alkaline, membrane and solid oxide electrolysis) and stacks under highly variable operating conditions. It has two main purposes, with the first being the provision of operational data to identify material aging factors. The second is to use this data to arrive at simulation models for the design of optimal operation profiles ensuring technological durability in industrial settings. The entire project was launched on June 1, 2016, and will run for four years.


The objective of H2TestOpt, supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, is to construct a test stand consisting of a compressor, storage space for 500 and 850 bars, an H2 dispenser for 350, 500 and 700 bars, cooling units and an inspection and control room. Together, these individual units comprise a refueling station that could be used to test both components and a station’s subsystems. The outstanding features will be its extensive metering and analysis functionality and the option to recover hydrogen after refueling, coupled with a high degree of flexibility when simulating the most varied fill-ups. Equal weight will be put on considering economic feasibility, energy consumption, technological issues, safety concerns and component and subsystem efficiency. The station will additionally offer an extended range of analytical functions to determine inspection intervals and methods. The test stand is expected to be available for research projects on hydrogen infrastructures by spring 2018.


This venture aims at designing a mobile refueling unit for decentralized, stationary and non-stationary storage up to 700 bars. It has received funds from the Ministry for Environment, Agriculture, Conservation and Consumer Protection of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia as part of HydrogenHighway NRW. The design base is a truck with a maximum weight of 7.5 tons and enough room for the storage tank, the compressor, dispensing systems and the necessary control and safety equipment. One use of the mobile unit will involve the supply of locations that are difficult to reach, such as remote cell towers. The vehicle is planned to be operational in twelve months’ time and will then undergo a series of tests based on real-life conditions. It will also be available to support research and demonstration projects. MobFuelH2 started on May 1, 2017, and is planned to run for two years in cooperation with Anleg based in Wesel, Germany.


The fourth endeavor will deal with ensuring proper hydrogen quality at filling stations. Supported by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure as part of the second National Innovation Program Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology – NIP 2, it has the primary aim of developing technologies and methods for an inexpensive, standardized analysis of hydrogen fuel quality. Together with the ZSW Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research in Ulm in the state of Baden-Württemberg, ZBT will identify suitable methods for analysis and sample-taking, conduct a series of measurements at filling stations and rate the quality of the hydrogen samples. Combined with the above-mentioned projects, ZBT offers excellent opportunities for extensive testing and the subsequent improvement of new solutions in research and development. HyLab was also launched on May 1 and will run for two-and-a-half years.

15 Years of ZBT

ZBT celebrated its 15-year anniversary on June 29, 2017. As part of the JRF On-Site event series by Johannes Rau Forschungsgemeinschaft, Angelika Heinzel, ZBT’s managing director, presented the research institute and its accomplishments over past years. Other speakers included North Rhine-Westphalia’s education minister, Svenja Schulze, Reinhold Achatz from thyssenkrupp and Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, secretary general of Hydrogen Europe (see interview in August 2017 issue of H2-international). All of them stressed the importance that hydrogen technology has in this German state.

Authors: Bernd Oberschachtsiek, Joachim Jungsbluth, both from ZBT GmbH – Zentrum für BrennstoffzellenTechnik, Duisburg

1 thought on “New ZBT Hydrogen Test Field”

  1. it is about time, to understand, that publicly funded projects are NOT the way,
    which lead to new horizons.
    We need small and smart companies (SSCs), with smart CEOs,
    who are working every day with their staff and who are having the full liability,
    to get the things commercially working.
    Living in a protected nutshell does only cost money and valuable time.
    Which we all do not really have.
    See the the facts and figure of the German energy infrastructure
    and identify your personal share, how to change this:


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