On March 30, 2021, the federal government’s innovation officer for "green hydrogen" Dr. Stefan Kaufmann visited the Materials Testing Institute at the University of Stuttgart, and learned about its 40 years of experience in hydrogen material research and about how modern materials can support the implementation of the federal government’s hydrogen strategy.
As well as its excellent properties as an energy source, hydrogen can also diffuse into metals and change them, since a hydrogen atom is smaller than all other atoms. Even high-strength materials can lose their advantageous properties as a result of this process. This makes the material key to successfully turning hydrogen technologies into a reality.
Here the MPA is building on its many years of experience in how hydrogen interacts with a wide range of materials. As far back as the 1980s, a pioneering Canadian-European research project carried out research into "Component Safety for Transporting Cryogenic Hydrogen". Even then, the idea was to produce hydrogen in a CO 2 -neutral way by using water power and to use it decentrally as a sustainable energy store.
The MPA Stuttgart has some unique testing facilities at its disposal for investigating how materials interact with hydrogen. These include a material testing facility for cryogenic hydrogen (liquid hydrogen) in particular, as well as a number of facilities for investigating the effect of compressed hydrogen at pressures of up to 1000 bar. Dr. Kaufmann also observed with interest the testing technology for accurately recording material properties under a hydrogen atmosphere, which was developed and patented by the MPA and which has already been given an award by the state agency for lightweight construction Leichtbau BW.
Speaking with the Managing Director of the MPA Prof. Stefan Weihe and his employees, Dr. Kaufmann reaffirmed the importance of independent scientific expertise as being crucial to the sustainable development of components and achieving an adequate standardization regarding hydrogen technology. Both agreed that testing and authorizing suitable materials and processing techniques for hydrogen applications which are suitable from an ecological, economic and safety perspective is a major challenge for the next few years. Dr. Kaufmann also commended the campus at the University of Stuttgart, which has outstanding expertise in materials science and how materials can be applied in all aspects of energy conversion and mobility, for setting up research clusters to carry out research into the application of "green hydrogen".