Clean hydrogen on demand


November 16, 2020

Image titel:


Clean hydrogen on demand

PowerPaste of the IFAM
PowerPaste, © IFAM

A few years ago, research at Dresden-based Fraunhofer IFAM’s Hydrogen Technologies department led to the development of a paste-like substance that can provide on-demand energy under well-controllable conditions for multiple kinds of fuel cell applications. In partnership with businesses and other research institutes, IFAM has since launched several projects to demonstrate that this substance called PowerPaste, the main ingredient of which is magnesium hydride, is both safe and easy to handle. The institute is also currently building a system to produce multiple tons of PowerPaste a year for use in field tests.

There already are well-established methods for producing hydrogen via hydrolysis, for example, by having water react with either calcium hydride (CaH2) or sodium borohydride (NaBH4). Around four years ago, H2-international first reported on PowerPaste (see H2-international, January 2017), a storage compound IFAM created based on magnesium hydride (MgH2). [Teg14]


The principle behind this kind of hydrolysis is always the same. When a metal hydride (MHn) reacts with water (H2O), it forms hydrogen and a metal hydride oxide:

MHn + n H2O à n H2 + M (OH)n

In the case of magnesium hydride, the equation is as follows:

MgH2 + 2 H2O à 2 H2 + Mg (OH)2

A few years ago, research at Dresden-based Fraunhofer IFAM’s Hydrogen Technologies department led to the development of a paste-like substance that can provide on-demand energy under well-controllable conditions.

Since this technique makes use of the water available during the reaction, it generates twice as much hydrogen as thermal decomposition, with half of that amount coming from the hydride. As a result, the method gives off much less waste heat than other production techniques during which a metal or a metal alloy reacts with water (or an acid).

The reaction, which takes place inside a hydrogen generator, is exothermic, which removes the need for external heat sources. The thermal energy that it generates can be used to heat buildings, among other things. Hydrolysis produces about as much energy as PEMs give off in the form of waste heat, i.e., approximately 1 kilowatt of heat per kilowatt of electrical output, at a temperature of around 80 °C. The most sensible course of action would thus be to devise a plan for the shared thermal management of both the fuel cell and the hydrolysis reactor.

When it comes to hydrolysis, magnesium hydride has several advantages over other materials:

  • Its specific energy is 6.1 kWh per kilogram, PowerPaste’s being 3.8 kWh. Even when factoring in fuel cell losses, the material provides much more energy than today‘s batteries, the gravimetric energy density of which is around 0.2 kWh per kilogram.
  • The magnesium to make magnesium hydride and PowerPaste is already available on the market in large quantities, at a raw material price of around EUR 1.70 a kilogram. Magnesium is also not a rare element but the third-most common in the earth’s crust.
  • According to IFAM estimates, even magnesium produced by conventional means will, over the longer term, lower the price of making PowerPaste to around EUR 2 to EUR 3 a kilogram. The levelized cost will be around EUR 20 to EUR 30 per kilogram at the point of use, including all expenditures for infrastructure and distribution. This reflects the full cost of production as opposed to artificial prices for hydrogen at fueling stations.

The above means that in many markets, including for UPS and light electric vehicles, the total cost of ownership will already be much lower than if the project involved putting up expensive hydrogen infrastructure or renting gas cylinders. The growing use of magnesium in light vehicle construction (CAGR: around 5 percent) also makes it likely that magnesium extraction will undergo significant changes in the next 10 years and become more carbon-neutral, energy-efficient and inexpensive.

read more in H2-international October 2020

Authors: Dr. Marcus Vogt, Felix Heubner, Dr.-Ing. Thomas Weißgärber, Dr. Lars Röntzsch

All for Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden

Kategorien: Germany

Here are interesting and current articles on the topic of hydrogen – stocks and the stock market!

Economic prospects for companies in the hydrogen sector | Future, stocks & hydrogen companies on the stock exchange and more…

Which hydrogen companies will prevail in the competitive market in the long term? Get tips and cartwheels and learn more about risks or opportunities. Our stock market specialist and expert author Sven Jösting reports critically, independently and competently.

Jun 13 2024

H2 Bank Selects Seven Projects”

The European Commission is allocating nearly 720 million euros to seven projects for renewable...
Jun 13 2024

World’s one-of-a-kind H2 test lab

Electrolyzers on the test bench In Hydrogen Lab Bremerhaven, manufacturers and operators of...
Jun 13 2024

First commercial green hydrogen production

Solar Global operates electrolyzer plant in Czech Republic An electrolyzer in the town of...
Jun 12 2024

Hydrogen 3.0

“Are we on the cusp of a hydrogen revolution or merely witnessing the build-up of another bubble?”...
Jun 12 2024

Mechatronic H2 pressure regulator

Up until now, Italian company Landi Renzo has been mainly known for its conversion sets for gas...
Jun 11 2024

Establishment of a metrological infrastructure

Flow measurement of high-pressure gas and liquid hydrogen In the field of flow measurement, the...
Jun 11 2024

FRHY Stack, first of its kind!

Technology platform for high-rate electrolyzer production The cooperative FRHY project, which...
Jun 10 2024

HySupply – German-Australian hydrogen bridge

Acatech and BDI show what’s feasible Defossilizing the energy system is an important goal of the...
Jun 05 2024

In the beginning was the refueling station

Creating planning security through the development of H2 infrastructure We have long discussed the...
Jun 04 2024

Digital potential

Low-cost green hydrogen through digitalization Plans to expand Germany’s hydrogen landscape are...
Jun 04 2024

A new energy infrastructure is emerging

“Green” and “blue” ammonia from other continents to come to Europe Ammonia produced from...
May 31 2024

Fuel cell systems for grid hardening

Interview with Christian Leu and Benedikt Eska from Axiosus An important but often neglected area...
May 30 2024

A new energy infrastructure is emerging

“Green” and “blue” ammonia from other continents to come to Europe Ammonia produced from...
May 16 2024

New CFO for H-Tec Systems

Electrolyzer manufacturer H-Tec Systems underwent restructuring at the turn of the year and...
May 16 2024

One-man show continues to grow

Hydrogeit Verlag celebrates its 20th anniversary The Hydrogeit Verlag publishing house has been...
May 15 2024

Hydrogen for the post-coal era

Nuclear energy also to power electrolysis in Hungary In May 2021, Hungary published its national...
May 15 2024

Hüwener to lead OGE

Thomas Hüwener will become the new management spokesman for transmission system operator OGE from...
May 15 2024

Accelerating expansion and reducing hurdles

German government adopts power plant strategy It took a long time, but now it's here – the power...
May 15 2024

Brussels approves IPCEI projects

3rd funding wave for H2 infrastructure measures The decision has finally come. In mid-February...
May 15 2024

Apex becomes H2APEX

Apex, headquartered in Rostock, Germany, is continuing to make big strides forward in the hydrogen...


Leave a Reply