Fraunhofer and Univ. of British Columbia to partner on sustainable energy production; wind, fuel cells, biomass
Fraunhofer and The University of British Columbia UBC in Vancouver, Canada will partner to develop technologies for sustainable energy production and supply; on 21 December 2012, Fraunhofer and the Canadian university signed a framework agreement for a collaboration spanning several years.
Fraunhofer Institutes for Environmental Safety and Energy Technology, UMSICHT in Oberhausen, and Machine Tools and Forming Technology, IWU in Chemnitz, complement the expertise of Fraunhofer ISE in the research collaboration with UBC. Direct research partner for Fraunhofer will be UBC’s Clean Energy Research Centre, CERC. Total funding of €4 million (US$5.3 million) has been secured within Fraunhofer and UBC to support this partnership.
Using the surplus electricity from wind or solar power plants to generate hydrogen is a possible option for energy storage. The partners will examine the development of innovative electrodes as well as electrolysis cells for PEM electrolyzers, with the goal of enhancing performance and level of efficiency. An additional subproject investigates the recycling of the hydrogen in the production of solar cells.
In the field of fuel cell research UBC and Fraunhofer ISE have already developed a globally unique method for spatially-resolved characterization of fuel cells. Processes in the cells can be monitored in detail, thus revealing the potential for optimization. Building on this development the partners will continue their efforts to improve significantly the efficiency and reliability of fuel cells.
The collaboration will also investigate the efficient conversion of various, currently underutilized biomass materials. The investigation will concentrate on innovative cleaning methods to control and significantly reduce the tar content in the emerging product gas during gasification of wood and wood waste. The purified gas can then easily be supplied to combustion systems for a combined heat and energy generation.
Wind is a significant component of the energy mix of the future. Therefore the partners will examine wind turbines from the viewpoint of using production techniques to make the units more efficient.