Fraunhofer Strategic Research Field

Hydrogen Technologies

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Hydrogen technologies have an increasingly important role to play in industry’s transition toward sustainable value creation. They form a key part of strategic plans to safeguard a sustainable future for Germany as an industrial hub. Fraunhofer’s expertise includes materials, systems and their production and use in industry, mobility and the energy sector. It also covers interdisciplinary topics such as security and service life.

Germany is committed to the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to below 2°C. To help meet this goal, it needs to make major efforts to achieve wide-ranging defossilization. A sustainable reduction in CO2 emissions can only be achieved by expanding and enhancing CO2-neutral technologies and putting them into widespread use. Hydrogen technologies have an essential role to play in this context, not just in mobility, but also in industry. As well as acting as an energy carrier, hydrogen can also be used as a chemical raw material. This makes it an important tool in efforts to mitigate climate change and secure Germany’s future as an industrial hub.

There is no time to waste in laying the foundations for a climate-neutral hydrogen economy. This is crucial to reaching our climate goals and robustly preparing our economy for the transition to the hydrogen age. When it comes to putting hydrogen technologies into practice, government and industry rely on Fraunhofer as a key strategic partner. Fraunhofer experts have spent many years applying their expertise in this pivotal research field in numerous successful projects. Their skills help drive forward and commercialize scientific solutions.

The market for hydrogen technology is only just beginning to ramp up worldwide. As a nation of engineers and plant constructors, Germany still has an opportunity to play a leading role in this sector. The Fraunhofer Institutes will draw on their skills and knowledge to smooth the transition of this technology into practice and boost Germany’s competitiveness.



Expediting hydrogen production

How do we take the hydrogen economy to the next level? The Referenzfabrik.H2 in Chemnitz is paving the way for industrial mass production of hydrogen systems.


Web special

Hydrogen Technologies

Fraunhofer’s expertise includes materials and systems and their production and use in the energy sector, in industry and in mobility as well as in interdisciplinary topics such as security and service life.


Fraunhofer Energy Alliance

Fields of research include digitization of the energy world, renewable energy sources, energy systems analyses and energy storage technologies as well as energy efficiency technologies and components for buildings, districts and cities.


Virtual tour of the hydrogen filling station at Fraunhofer ISE

Publicly accessible 700 bar hydrogen refueling station at Fraunhofer ISE with three of the institute’s own fuel cell cars.

Fraunhofer Hydrogen Network

The Fraunhofer Hydrogen Network serves as a dynamic exchange and cooperation platform under the leadership of Prof. Christopher Hebling (Fraunhofer ISE) and Prof. Mario Ragwitz (Fraunhofer IEG), with an agile directorate as its operational decision-making level. Comprising 38 Fraunhofer institutes, the network unites expertise across the entire hydrogen value chain, from hydrogen production to storage, distribution, infrastructure, and application in industry, mobility, energy, and heat. Its goal is to develop market-ready hydrogen technologies and actively contribute to the energy transition. Approximately 750 full-time equivalents at Fraunhofer are dedicated to these innovative solutions.

Impact on society as a whole

Energiewende accomplished

The Energiewende – Germany’s ongoing transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy – is the subject of research by a number of Fraunhofer Institutes. By pooling this expertise, Fraunhofer is able to take a broader and more holistic view of the shift toward renewables, addressing it from multiple perspectives including economic and technological aspects as well as environmental and social factors. This lays the foundations for a successful transition to a new energy era.

The institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are conducting research into numerous fields of technology relevant to the Energiewende, ranging from renewables and energy efficiency technologies to smart energy networks, digitalization of the energy sector and energy storage technologies. Our goal is to offer our customers pioneering and competitive system-level products that represent a sound investment.
We work with small and medium-sized enterprises, industrial enterprises and the energy sector, providing them with access to a wide range of research and development offerings that are geared to help them achieve success with innovative products and win new markets. Fraunhofer has all the necessary in-house expertise to act as a one-stop solution provider. 

All its activities are aimed at accomplishing the goals of the Energiewende by creating a sustainable, secure, affordable and socially just energy system.

Fully circular economy

Several million tonnes of waste are produced each year, ranging from construction waste, scrap wood and municipal solid waste incineration bottom ash to carbon fiber-reinforced composites and electronic waste. With resources becoming scarcer and sustainability moving up the political agenda, the time has come to move away from our current mostly linear approach to resource use and switch to a circular economy.

A circular economy is the opposite of the "take, make, dispose" model of production that still prevails today. In our current linear or “throw-away” economy, most of the natural resources we use are sent to landfill or incinerated once a product reaches the end of its useful life. Only a small proportion is re-used or recycled. In contrast, a circular economy promotes a renewable or regenerative system of industrial production. Its goal is to minimize the use of resources and the generation of waste and emissions and to make a more efficient use of energy. This can be achieved by slowing, narrowing and closing energy and material loops. Key tools for this purpose include long-lasting design, maintenance, refurbishing, repair, reuse, remanufacturing and recycling. 

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft actively seeks to help shape the transition from today’s primarily linear economy to a circular economy. It does this by conducting research into the necessary systemic, technical and social innovations and the new value creation networks these innovations entail.