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Hannover Messe: Jülich Puts Research into Practice

Fuel cells with the best performance in the world, resistant materials, and quick techniques for measuring plant growth and solar modules

[18. April 2008]

Jülich / Hannover, 18 April 2008 - It runs and runs and runs: the Jülich fuel cell. Its operating life and efficiency are continuously achieving new peak values. This technology is pursuing a course that leads from laboratory prototypes to series production for niche applications to the mass market itself. At the Hannover Messe (hall 13, stand G68), Jülich researchers are now presenting a methanol fuel cell that has a power of 2 kilowatts and an operating life of 500 hours.

"And our prototypes run for 500 hours under real conditions in dynamic operation", emphasises Detlef Stolten, Director at the Jülich Institute of Energy Research. The fuel cell from his institute is now the driving force in a forklift on display that was developed in cooperation with industry. The forklift is fuelled within minutes with liquid methanol - neither lengthy charging times for batteries nor gas tanks are needed. Since no exhaust fumes are produced, it is particularly suitable for transporting pallets and packaged goods - even in closed warehouses.

In the field of on-board power supply, the Jülich fuel gas reformer could open the market for fuel cells. A reformer transforms commercial diesel or kerosene into a hydrogen-rich gas for a fuel cell. Energy could be provided more efficiently in this way on board cars, ships and airplanes because the main drive does not have to be used and batteries and turbines are not required. In the laboratory, Jülich reformers still sustained their conversion level of more than 99 % even after 2,000 hours of operation. With the patent in the bag, the Jülich researchers now want to develop a marketable product in cooperation with industrial companies such as Airbus which will help to save energy thanks to its high efficiency.

"With our research, we do not simply want to establish basic principles", explains Detlef Stolten, "we also want to take the necessary steps towards the commercialisation of fuel cell technology." The Jülich Institute of Energy Research conducts unified research - from improving the key components in cells and stacks right up to developing installable fuel cell systems. "We want to keep an eye on all aspects and coordinate everything accordingly. This is the only way that we can make the complex "fuel cell" system commercially viable", explains Stolten.

"Despite concentrating on applications for our research, we have not lost sight of the original motivation", says Stolten. "In cooperation with Jülich environmental and systems researchers, my team is working on minimising the influence that humans have on climate change". As a discernable sign of this objective, an iceberg as tall as a man can be seen at the Jülich stand at the Hannover Messe. The iceberg will melt away over the course of the trade fair. "Even we don’t know how long our iceberg will last and how fragile it is, but this is also symbolic of the global climate situation", says Stolten.

Other Jülich research being showcased at the Hannover Messe can be found here:

Hall 2, stand C38 (NRW): Two new effective measuring techniques will be showcased at the "Innovationsland NRW" stand.

  • Plants and soils can be analysed within seconds in a non-destructive and low-cost manner using a microwave field, and the growth dynamics of biomass and groundwater in the root zone can be determined. This makes optimised plant selection according to environmental conditions possible, as well as targeted irrigation management.
  • Determining the efficiency and thus the quality of solar modules accurately is immensely important for industry. A sensor array from Jülich with 80 parts now allows the calibration of measuring stands to be accurately and efficiently performed.

Hall 2, stand C08 (ExtreMat): New materials are the key to developing an energy supply system free of greenhouse gasses - whether it be using fusion, hydrogen technologies or the capture of carbon dioxide in coal-fired power plants. Forschungszentrum Jülich is presenting its contribution to the EU project ExtreMat at Hannover. The focus is on resistant metal alloys, ceramic thermal barrier coatings and innovative test procedures.

Live: Webcam


A glimpse into the fuel cell that generates electric current for the forklift. Photo:


How long will the iceberg last in the warm hall? This is the question that our colleagues looking after the Jülich stand asked themselves at the beginning of the Hannover Messe 2008; from left to right: Dr. Zdenek Pors, Marie-Theres Gerhardts, Dr. Peter Batfalsky, Nicola Kimiaie and Dr. Manfred Wilms. Photo:


With a methanol fuel cell as their energy source, forklifts will become more flexible because lengthy charging times for batteries will no longer arise. Photo: Forschungszentrum Jülich


The fuel gas reformer, which is as long as an arm, is the central element in a fuel gas generator (background). Inside it, diesel or kerosene are vaporised and catalysed into hydrogen. In his Ph.D. thesis, Dr. Zdenek Pors made a decisive contribution to the further development of the mixing chamber. Photo: Forschungszentrum Jülich


Photo:Forschungszentrum Jülich

Links Fuel cells:

Events in Hannover:

23 April, 14:20, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Forum, hall 13 G66, SOFC & DMFC development: Performance and durability enhancement, with Robert Steinberger-Wilckens and Jürgen Mergel

Contact in Hannover:

Robert Steinberger-Wilckens
Mobil: 0170/2286662

Jürgen Mergel
Mobil: 0175/7295423

Contact in Jülich:

Bernd Emonts
Tel. 02461 61-3525


Calibration system for solar modules:

Microwave measurements of plants:

Press contact:

Peter Schäfer
Tel. 02461 61-8028