Solar Hydrogen - Pure & Compressed

SOC test benches IAM-ET, KIT
Test benches for high-temperature solid oxide electrolyzer cells at IAM-ET
Wrinkle formation in a hydrogen-loaded palladium layer IAM-WK, KIT
Wrinkle formation in a hydrogen-loaded palladium layer: material properties can change in the presence of H2.
Concept of pyrolysis of methane/biogas to produce H2 and carbon. Carbon can be used materially or acts as a negative CO2 emission when landfilled.
Heliostat mirror follows the sun and reflects light onto parabolic mirror, which concentrates the light with a factor of 1600. ITES, KIT
Heliostat mirror follows the sun and reflects light onto parabolic mirror, which concentrates the light with a factor of 1600.
Karlsruhe Liquid Metal LAboratory (KALLA) - High-Temperature heat transfer via liquid metals ITES, KIT
The thermal energy is transferred to a receiver in the Karlsruhe Liquid Metal LAboratory (KALLA), which supplies the high-temperature heat to the pyrolysis reaction. The heat transfer (T=600 °C) takes place via liquid metals.

Project of the Helmholtz Innovation Pool

Duration: 01/2021 - 12/2023

KIT Contact: Prof. Dr. Thomas Jordan, Dr. Bernhard Schäfer

The project aims to provide essential scientific knowledge and viable technologies for the conversion of solar energy into hydrogen. The technologies explored in the project will enable the production of solar hydrogen with the highest possible purity and at a pressure well above normal pressure

Hydrogen with these properties can be used in high-value applications (e.g., to power a PEM fuel cell or for chemical and e-fuel production). Technologies that can use solar energy to provide high-purity and compressed hydrogen at very low cost in the future can make a significant contribution to the design of a sustainable energy system in Germany and worldwide.

KIT scientists work on the following topics:

  • Production
    • Electrolysis in solid oxide cells (IAM-ET)
    • Pyrolysis of methane/biogas (ITES)
  • Applications
    • Spectrum of applications and their requirements for purity and pressure; from low temperature fuel cells to synthesis of liquid fuels and LOHCs (IKFT)
    • Purification and compression processes and safety aspects (ITES)
  • Interactions of materials and hydrogen (IAM-WK)

The KIT contributions are divided into three subprojects dealing with

  • electrolysis in solid oxide cells,
  • pyrolysis of methane - or biogas - and
  • purification processes.

Pressure and safety aspects are treated cross-sectionally.

The IAM-ET (Cedric Großelindemann, Dr.-Ing. André Weber, Prof. Ulrike Krewer) characterizes and models reversible solid oxide cells. The focus is on the pressure dependence of the electrochemical processes in the cell. The research results allow to design high-temperature electrolyzers more efficiently for pressurized operation and to increase their lifetime. In close cooperation with the FZJ, investigations are carried out on oxygen ion as well as proton conducting cells.

Concentrated solar heat can be used efficiently to heat the liquid metal reactor developed at ITES (Dr. Leonid Stoppel, Prof. Thomas Wetzel). In the reactor, methane is pyrolytically decomposed into hydrogen and easily separable carbon.  In this project, the influence of pressurized operation on efficiency and product purity will be investigated. An existing cooperation with HZDR for modeling this multiphase system is to be expanded here, combined with own contributions from ITES (Prof. Thomas Jordan), also for safety assessment.

State-of-the-art material aspects and innovative catalysis concepts for the purification and application of hydrogen are investigated at the IAM-WK (Dr. Korneychuk, Prof. Astrid Pundt) in collaboration with HZB and FZJ.

All production paths investigated in the project produce solar hydrogen with different qualities in terms of pressure and purity. Under the leadership of the IKFT (Dr. Stephan Pitter, Prof. Jörg Sauer), the KIT is analyzing the purity criteria required for each of the different potential applications of hydrogen - from energy conversion in a fuel cell to industrial use, e.g. for the production of synthetic fuels or LOHCs.


Solar Hyrdogen KIT Kickoff
KIT KickOff Meeting Solar H2, February 4th, 3-5 pm

KIT scientists jointly coordinate the contributions in the research project to successfully investigate solar-based production routes of H2 with respect to pressure & purity for various applications.

Project KickOff: Solar H2 - Pure and Compressed
Helmholtz KickOff Meeting: March, 5 2021, 3-5 pm

KIT scientists & Helmholtz colleagues are jointly investigating solar-based production pathways of H2 regarding required pressure & purity of various applications.


Warmuth, L.; Pitter, S.
Influence of impurities in H2 from different sources on the deactivation of methanol synthesis catalyst
2022, June 30. Curiosity - A French German Young Chemists Conference (2022), Mulhouse, France, June 30–July 1, 2022 
Warmuth, L.; Polierer, S.; Zevaco, T. A.; Pitter, S.
Influence of impurities in H2 from different sources on the deactivation of methanol synthesis catalysts
2022, June 27. 55. Jahrestreffen Deutscher Katalytiker (2022), Weimar, Germany, June 27–29, 2022 
Journal Articles
Grosselindemann, C.; Russner, N.; Dierickx, S.; Wankmüller, F.; Weber, A.
Deconvolution of Gas Diffusion Polarization in Ni/Gadolinium-Doped Ceria Fuel Electrodes
2021. Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 168 (12), Art.-Nr.: 124506. doi:10.1149/1945-7111/ac3d02Full textFull text of the publication as PDF document