In conversation with Lars Eichhorn

In conversation with Lars Eichhorn

Credit DBT Inga Haar

©Technology Salon, Leibniz University

Innovation Lab "Sustainable Hydrogen Combustion Concepts" (WaVe)

More than 20 research teams in Lower Saxony are working on solutions for the hydrogen economy. Many of them within the framework of the five innovation labs coordinated by the EFZN.

A contribution to the stronger networking of science and industry was the presentation of the EFZN hydrogen competence paper. The paper is a "performance showcase" of the Hydrogen Lower Saxony Research Alliance, which has been in existence since 2018.

The NWN took the publication as an opportunity to talk to Lars Eichhorn, research associate at the Institute for Technical Combustion and researcher in the WaVe innovation laboratory.

Mr. Eichhorn, you work in one of the five innovation labs in Lower Saxony. What does the WaVe deal with?

Eichhorn: The Innovation Lab is working on sustainable hydrogen combustion concepts (WaVe) in three projects. One project is concerned with hydrogen engines in vehicles. It is investigating which concepts and adapted components can be used to run existing commercial vehicle engines on hydrogen. The second project is investigating how natural gas can be replaced by hydrogen in a gas-fired power plant. In the third project, on which I am personally working, we want to show that hydrogen can be used to provide primary control power in gas and steam power plants. The short-term power increase of a steam turbine required for this is generated with additional process steam, which is the reaction product of hydrogen-oxygen combustion.

Why can't such processes be electrified?

Eichhorn: In this and many other applications, temperature levels beyond 500 degrees Celsius are required. Especially in the production of ceramics, glass, or cement, the heat demand is very high. Here, thermal utilization is significantly more efficient than electrical utilization of hydrogen.

They are trying to make this combustion even more efficient here. How does that work?

Eichhorn: The handling of the very hot hydrogen-oxygen flame, which burns at atmospheric pressure and temperatures above 3000 °C, is particularly demanding. For this purpose, we are developing a burner that can withstand the thermal load and ensure optimum mixing of the gases as well as reliable stabilization of the flame. The focus is on reducing the combustion temperature to a technologically controllable level.

And you do that with water?

Eichhorn: Correct. In many cases, water vapor is used for this, which is added to the combustion; what is challenging is the quantities required. In our research approach, the flame is cooled with liquid water, which is atomized by the oxygen and enters the combustion chamber as a water-oxygen spray. Within the combustion chamber, the mixing and oxidation of the hydrogen takes place. In initial tests with the new burner, the flame temperature was reduced to below 2000 °C thanks to the innovative concept. Other advantages of using liquid water are the smaller pipe cross-sections in the supply line compared with vaporized water and the fact that no primary energy is required to produce steam. This makes this technology much more flexible and quicker to use.

But steam can already be produced relatively quickly. Where do we need this time flexibility?  

Eichhorn: The aim of primary control power is to provide additional power within seconds to ensure the stability of the power grid. Starting up a steam generator takes too long and is therefore not suitable. Instead, our research approach uses liquid water - without further preparation.

You also work in a basic research laboratory at the Hydrogen Campus Hannover. What is being studied here?

Eichhorn: The basic laboratory was primarily created to arouse students' interest in hydrogen in general and in sustainable combustion technology topics in particular. And indeed, although we are experiencing declining attendance at lectures on combustion engines, we are seeing increasing interest on the part of students in hydrogen technologies and alternative fuels. Especially through the lab, we receive some unsolicited applications for our innovative research projects.

Thank you very much, Mr. Eichhorn.





Adaptation of a combined heat and power plant for future hydrogen operation

Adaptation of a combined heat and power plant for future hydrogen operation


©EWE/C3 Visual Lab

By converting to hydrogen operation, combined heat and power plants can be operated in an environmentally and climate-friendly manner. ©A-TRON Combined Heat and Power Units GmbH

Adaptation of a CHP unit using additively manufactured components for future hydrogen operation

Combined heat and power plants (CHP) offer an efficient heating option, especially for medium-sized to large properties such as hotels, apartment buildings, care facilities or similar buildings. This is because, unlike central gas or coal-fired power plants, CHP units can use almost all of the heat energy generated for heating. Although this can achieve efficiencies of over 90 percent, the combustion of conventional fuels such as natural gas or diesel produces pollutants such asCO2 or particulate matter. In order to make operation climate-friendly, A-TRON Blockheizkraftwerke GmbH and the two institutes ITV and IPeG of Leibniz University want to enable the use of hydrogen in CHP units in a project funded by the state of Lower Saxony - in the long term and in a climate-friendly way.

A CHP unit offers a form of decentralized energy generation that is particularly suitable for medium-sized and large buildings. It has a combustion engine in which a fuel is burned. The resulting thermal energy can be used almost entirely for heating, allowing high efficiencies of over 90% to be achieved. However, since fossil fuels such as natural gas or diesel are generally used at present, the combustion process still produces pollutants that are harmful to the climate, such asCO2 or particulate matter. In order to be able to use this efficient technology in a climate- and environmentally friendly way in the future, the project partners A-TRON and the Institute for Technical Combustion (ITV) and the Institute for Product Development and Device Construction (IPeG) at Leibniz Universität Hannover are investigating how hydrogen can be used as a fuel in CHP units as part of the project "Adaptation of a CHP unit using additively manufactured components for future hydrogen operation". The focus is not only on the basic feasibility, but in particular on developing hydrogen CHP units that can be used in the long term.

Innovative approach to enable hydrogen operation

To this end, two goals are being pursued within the framework of the project: In the first sub-goal, the operation of a CHP with hydrogen is to be made possible in principle. "The first objective is to demonstrate the feasibility of hydrogen use in CHP units. Since this requires changes to the technology, the project will take a highly innovative approach that improves not only the combustion technology but also the thermal boundary conditions." Professor Dinkelacker, managing director of the ITV, explains the project's objectives.

Since hydrogen is very ignitable, the components used must not become too hot. The aim is therefore to retrofit the combustion engine with suitable components and parts that can be cooled well. Particularly critical here is the engine's cylinder head, which can have locally hot areas - increasing the risk of unintentional ignition. To achieve high efficiency, heat recovery from the exhaust gas must also be improved. The temperature of the exhaust gas is lower than in natural gas engines, which is why a heat exchanger is to be developed to transfer the heat efficiently to the heating circuit.

©A-TRON Combined Heat and Power Plants Ltd.

Durability of the components is to be increased

In the second sub-goal, the durability of the hydrogen CHP units is also to be increased. Since not inconsiderable emissions are already produced during the manufacture of the CHP units, they should be used for as long as possible. To this end, the durability of the individual components must be increased - but especially that of the liner, whose service life is the most limited. Wear is to be countered in particular by additive manufacturing (3D printing) of modern components. In addition, wear will be made measurable during operation as part of the project. This can replace the cost-intensive removal of the entire engine, which is currently still necessary for wear measurement (and liner replacement). In addition, more efficient thermal management is made possible.

Professor Lachmayer, managing director of IPeG, emphasizes the importance of the project for a successful heat transition: "Both hydrogen combustion in CHP units and the integration of additive manufacturing into engine technology are novel. If CHP units can be operated with hydrogen without greenhouse gas emissions, this is a central building block for the heat turnaround."

State of Lower Saxony supports the project

The project partners include A-TRON Blockheizkraftwerke GmbH as well as the Institute for Technical Combustion and the Institute for Product Development and Device Construction, two institutes of Leibniz Universität Hannover. The project is being funded by the state of Lower Saxony with just under €800,000 and is scheduled to run until October 2024.

"As a ministry, we expressly support the project. After all, we need to explore what effective ways there are of converting hydrogen back into electricity and how the heat generated in the process can be used. We also want to get away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible. Hydrogen offers many possibilities for this, and we are also intensively pursuing this in pilot and demonstration projects."

Christian Meyer, Lower Saxony Minister for Energy and Climate Protection

While the institutes of Leibniz Universität Hannover want to transfer the knowledge gained to other fields of research following the project, A-TRON GmbH plans to use the new CHP units to supply its current customer base and open up other markets. In this context, Daniel Steck, head of development at A-TRON Blockheizkraftwerke GmbH, emphasizes the opportunities that arise when the hydrogen economy takes off: "Currently, we are already selling environmentally friendly CHP units - e.g. in the form of biogas or sewage gas plants. With this project, however, we want to strategically expand our portfolio. By successfully adapting a CHP to run on hydrogen, we can invest in an important future market and contribute to the development of a greenhouse gas-neutral hydrogen infrastructure."


©Ahrens Roof Technology
©DLR Institute for Networked Energy Systems
©DLR Institute for Networked Energy Systems

The A-TRON Combined Heat and Power Plants Ltd. is an internationally active developer and manufacturer of mini CHP units. Environmentally friendly CHP units are already being sold in the form of biogas or sewage gas plants - the hydrogen CHP unit adds another climate-friendly offering. 

Logo: © A-TRON Combined Heat and Power Plants Ltd.



At the Institute for Product Development and Device Engineering (IPeG), the topics the topics of development methodology, systems engineering, additive manufacturing and optomechatronics are dealt with. The institute realizes integrated product development from the idea to the prototype in their workshops and laboratories.

Logo: © Institute for Product Development & Device Engineering

The Institute for Technical Combustion (ITV) conducts research and teaches in the areas of turbulent combustion, spray injection processes, diesel and gas engine combustion processes, and engine tribology. New topics are "sustainable combustion". 

Logo: © Institute for Technical Combustion



Schrand Energy Plant

Schrand Energy Plant


Prof. Dr. -Ing. Reckzügel (Professor at Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, Professor of Innovative Energy Technology and Thermal Energy Technology), Patrick Wösten (Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences, research assistant in the project), Minister Meyer, Jörg Wilke (Managing Director "Northern Institute of Thinking") (second row), Timo Schrand (Managing Director of GmbH & Co. KG), Paul Hoffmann (Project Manager Hydrogen at GmbH & Co. KG.) (second row), Uwe Bartels (Former State Minister)

Self-sufficient energy system in the building

In Essen (Oldenburg), the company GmbH & Co. KG is planning a CO2-neutral and energy-autonomous, company-owned new building. The concept called Schrand Energy Plant is developed from the beginning as a modular, reproducible and scalable overall solution in order to be able to transfer it to other buildings.

The Schrand Energy Plant uses a photovoltaic system to supply renewable energy to the respective company site. The excess energy is then used in a PEM electrolysis unit to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, store these gases temporarily in pressurized gas tanks, and then convert them into electrical power and heat in a hydrogen fuel cell as needed. The Energy Plant is thus intended to provide a total system consisting of energy storage, electrolyzer, fuel cell and hydrogen tank that can be adapted to the respective consumer.

On March 7, Lower Saxony's Environment and Energy Minister Christian Meyer handed over the funding. will receive funding of around 2.7 million euros for the implementation and the cooperation partner Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences 230,000 euros. 

Environment and Energy Minister Christian Meyer: "Renewable energies are essential if we want to protect the climate. Sometimes, however, we have large quantities without being able to store them. The project kills two birds with one stone by combining solar energy and hydrogen technology: surplus solar energy can thus be reused, and hydrogen can be produced with renewable energies. That's good for the climate and your wallet, and it strengthens the local economy with cheap, clean energy."





TransHyDE - Development of a hydrogen transport infrastructure

To meet Germany's demand for green hydrogen and implement the energy transition, large quantities of hydrogen are needed - a not inconsiderable proportion of which must be imported. The hydrogen lead project TransHyDE, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), therefore aims to further develop transport options in a way that is open to technology and also to create appropriate standards in order to thereby enable the development of the hydrogen infrastructure and support the market ramp-up.

Our site presents numerous projects that focus on the transport of hydrogen. There are very different approaches, be it transport in high-pressure containers, in existing gas pipelines or by means of green ammonia or liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC). This technological diversity is to be further investigated as part of the TransHyDE hydrogen lead project - because there is still a great need for research in the fields of action mentioned. In particular, there are currently no uniform regulations in the area of standardization, e.g. standards or safety regulations - which is currently still hindering the market ramp-up. New standards, norms and certifications are therefore needed so that the above-mentioned transport technologies can be quickly integrated into the energy system, and a separate work package within TransHyDE is dedicated to this.

TransHyDE is being implemented in various sub-projects, in which the various transport options are being looked at in more detail, both in practice and from a research perspective.

Source: Project Management Jülich on behalf of the BMBF

The implementation takes place in subprojects (please fold out for further information):


An innovative high-pressure spherical hydrogen storage system is being developed at Mukran Port on the island of Rügen. This should be able to be used on the high seas in the immediate vicinity of offshore wind and electrolysis plants from the H2Mare project. There, green hydrogen is generated by means of wind energy, which is to be stored temporarily in the spherical storage system.

"GET H2"

To ensure that hydrogen is available nationwide, the GET H2 project is investigating the use of former natural gas pipelines for hydrogen transport. Currently, there is a lack of norms and monitoring standards for the conversion of natural gas pipelines, which is why GET H2 is establishing a test environment in which material and safety questions can be answered.


The Campfire project will investigate the potential of ammonia for hydrogen transport, focusing in particular on the recovery of hydrogen from ammonia. The aim here is in particular to improve the efficiency with which the hydrogen is re-released.


In the Helgoland project, a hydrogen logistics chain is being established over land and sea. Via pipeline, the green hydrogen will be brought from the offshore plant of the lead project H2Mare to the island of Helgoland, where it will be bonded with LOHC for further transport. Subsequently, the bonded hydrogen can be shipped using existing infrastructure in a similar way to oil and, in turn, dissolved from the LOHC and made usable in a dehydrogenation plant in the port of Hamburg.

"Research Alliances"

A total of five alliances of research institutions support the projects with scientific findings. This involves, for example, materials and component research, operating simulations, or safety-related and ecological issues. The state of knowledge and current recommendations for action are recorded in a roadmap and made available to all project partners.

Further information

Three companies from Lower Saxony are participating in the project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). These include ROSEN GmbH, Salzgitter Mannesmann Forschung GmbH and Inherent Solutions Consult GmbH & Co. KG

More about the project you can find here.




©MUSource: Project Management Jülich on behalf of the BMBF.

H2Mare - Green hydrogen from the sea

For the successful market ramp-up of green hydrogen, it must be produced cost-effectively. In this context, offshore wind energy can offer a good instrument for producing inexpensive green hydrogen - especially if the hydrogen can be produced directly on site without cost-intensive infrastructure. This is precisely what is currently being investigated in the hydrogen lead project "H2Mare" project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Offshore wind turbines offer great potential for the cost-effective generation of renewable energy - and thus also for the production of low-cost green hydrogen. Compared to onshore wind turbines, offshore wind turbines offer a higher average rated power and generate electricity comparatively continuously. These advantages are to be used in the H2Mare project to produce low-cost green hydrogen directly on site at sea. Due to the local generation by means of wind power, the infrastructure costs - and thus also the costs for the green hydrogen overall - can be significantly reduced.

In addition to the production of green hydrogen at sea, the production of downstream products such as green methanol or green ammonia, which can be used and transported flexibly, is also planned. To this end, the project partners want to test the use of technologies that enable carbon dioxide and nitrogen production at sea - a prerequisite for the production of green methanol and green ammonia.

In addition, future-oriented approaches such as seawater or steam electrolysis are to be tested and further advanced, as this could eliminate the need for desalination of seawater - and thus a further production step. Due to the work in a sensitive ecosystem, safety and the question of possible environmental impacts are also at the center of the research work.

Source: Project Management Jülich on behalf of the BMBF.

This is being implemented in four sub-projects:


In the "OffgridWind" project, the prerequisites are to be created for integrating an electrolyzer in a new wind turbine. This requires not only a different foundation than for "conventional" offshore plants, but also a new wind turbine design.


The H2Mare project "H2Wind" is investigating the electrolyzer to be used in the plants. The aim is that the water electrolyzer used should ultimately be able to operate very efficiently and almost self-sufficiently.

"PtX Wind"

The third sub-project "PtX-Wind" focuses on power-to-X technology and in particular on the production of green methanol and green ammonia. For this purpose,CO2 and nitrogen are to be extracted from the air on site, which are necessary for the production of methanol and ammonia. The PtX Wind project is also investigating seawater electrolysis: This should make it possible to use the water extracted from the sea directly in the electrolysis process - so that desalination would no longer be necessary.


The last H2Mare project "TransferWind" deals with overarching issues such as safety and environmental issues or infrastructure requirements at sea. In addition, the results from the other projects are to be brought together in this sub-project and an exchange between the diverse project partners is to take place.

Further information

Two research institutions from Lower Saxony are participating in the project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). In addition to Leibniz Universität Hannover, these include the Offshore Wind Energy Foundation from Varel.

You can find more about the project here.




©MUSource: Project Management Jülich on behalf of the BMBF.

H2Giga - series production of electrolyzers

Large electrolysis capacities are a key prerequisite for the successful development of the German hydrogen economy. In order to build up high capacities of high-performance and cost-effective electrolysers, series production of electrolysers is needed in the near future - because currently their production is still largely time-consuming and cost-intensive. To change this, the BMBF-funded hydrogen lead project "H2Giga" is investigating the series production of electrolyzers by a total of around 120 partners.

In order to meet Germany's growing demand for hydrogen in the future and to successfully ramp up the market, appropriate electrolysis capacities are needed. Although large and efficient electrolysers already exist today, their production is often time-consuming and cost-intensive. In order to build up the necessary electrolysis capacities in the future and make green hydrogen competitive, mass production of electrolysers is required. For this reason, about 120 partners from industry, SMEs, start-ups, universities and research institutions are working in the H2Giga project to advance existing electrolysis technologies. To this end, there is to be a constant exchange between industry and science within the project, whereby efficient processes for the production of electrolyzers are to be developed.

The H2Giga projects can be divided into three groups: Under the heading "Scale-up", common electrolysis processes (PEM electrolysis, alkaline water electrolysis, high-temperature electrolysis) are being looked at and prepared for series production. Within the scope of the "Next Generation Scale-up", electrolysis processes are investigated that are also promising but not yet as established. These include processes that do not require precious metals or are particularly efficient. In the "Innovation Pool", future technologies and innovations are investigated and developed, e.g. with regard to new materials and production technologies.

A detailed presentation of the (partial) projects can be seen in the video below.

The project started in April 2021 and will run for four years. The results of the project should eventually enable the various electrolysis technologies to be mass-produced in the future. H2Giga is also intended to help strengthen education and training in the hydrogen economy and create jobs.

Companies and research institutions from all over Germany are participating in the project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). From Lower Saxony, the TU Clausthal, the TU Braunschweig, the Leibniz Universität Hannover, the German Aerospace Center and OFFIS e.V. are the main scientific partners involved. Fest GmbH from Goslar is participating from the business sector.

You can find more about the H2Giga project here.

Source: Project Management Jülich on behalf of the BMBF.