As part of the energy tran­si­tion (Ener­gie­wende), Germany has set a goal to trans­form the exis­ting energy system into one that is based on rene­wable energy and free of carbon emis­sions. Efforts to over­haul the energy system have long targeted the electri­city sector, but now it is crucial to focus on the key role of new tech­no­lo­gies that can store and utilise rene­wable energy by making it avail­able to other sectors, such as trans­port and heating.

Wind und Wasser zu Ammoniak - maritimer Kraftstoff und 
Energiespeicher für eine emissionsfreie Zukunft

Area of innovation

Key inno­va­tions include tech­no­lo­gies that enable the decen­tra­lised produc­tion of green ammonia (NH3) using locally gene­rated wind or solar power, air and water and apply it as a carbon-free fuel for zero-emis­sion marine mobi­lity. The inte­gra­tion of new types of elec­tro­cer­amic thin films into energy systems makes resource-saving direct energy conver­sion processes for ammonia both feasible and econo­mical. Ammonia, a chemical compound formed by the synthesis of abundant nitrogen and hydrogen, provides excel­lent energy storage for hydrogen and will revo­lu­tio­nise marine mobi­lity. Elec­tro­cer­amic membranes are mass-produced using thin-film processes and allow for high system effi­ci­ency and cycle stabi­lity. Based on a roadmap created in the CAMPFIRE project, cost-opti­mised produc­tion methods for basic inno­va­tions are being devised and imple­mented as a prere­qui­site for estab­li­shing emis­sion-free propul­sion systems to be used in ship­ping. The CAMPFIRE consor­tium brings toge­ther experts in the natural sciences, engi­nee­ring, law, econo­mics and climate policy who are colla­bo­ra­ting to develop new tech­no­lo­gies and embed them in a market influ­enced by climate policy goals.


In addi­tion to its focus on tech­no­lo­gical issues, the CAMPFIRE rese­arch project examines the legal, economic and poli­tical frame­work for the new membrane tech­no­lo­gies. To shed greater light on these issues, consor­tium part­ners hold inter­di­sci­pli­nary work­shops featuring in-depth dialogue and exchange with parti­ci­pants from the fields of poli­tics, industry and academia. Toge­ther, atten­dees iden­tify poten­tial appli­ca­tions for the new tech­no­logy and develop ideas for imple­men­ting project rese­arch and objec­tives. The active coope­ra­tion of all stake­hol­ders is necessary for the project to be successful in buil­ding the economy and aiding the tran­si­tion in Northeast Germany.

An initiative of the WIR! funding programme

The CAMPFIRE rese­arch project is financed through the Inno­va­tion and Struc­tural Trans­for­ma­tion (German: Wandel durch Inno­va­tion in der Region (WIR!)) funding programme of the Federal Ministry for Educa­tion and Outreach (BMBF). The goal of the project is to develop new energy conver­sion and storage tech­no­lo­gies for green ammonia as ‘hydrogen tech­no­logy 2.0’, with a breakthrough inven­tion based on elec­tro­cer­amic thin-film membranes.

CAMPFIRE tech­no­lo­gies enable locally gene­rated wind power to be converted into green ammonia that is easily and cost effi­ci­ently stored, trans­ported and distri­buted. Ammonia may be used directly or converted back into hydrogen in combus­tion engines, turbines and fuel cells, allowing propul­sion systems to operate carbon free. The new tech­no­lo­gies can then be inte­grated into exis­ting value chains that have been deve­loped on the basis of estab­lished tech­no­lo­gies. This makes the region of Northeast Germany a pioneer in carbon-free hydrogen tech­no­lo­gies 2.0 for zero-emis­sion ship­ping in Europe.

A future energy economy based on green ammonia from rene­wable ener­gies will enable us to use hydrogen as an econo­mical fuel and as the key compo­nent of a secure, carbon-free energy supply. In the long term, it will also open up a new path for effec­tive and cost-effi­cient methods to reduce global carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere.


The seven-month CAMPFIRE concept phase was completed by 31 consor­tium part­ners and suppor­ters at regional and multi-regional levels and coor­di­nated by the Leibniz Insti­tute for Plasma Science and Tech­no­logy (INP). Toge­ther, parti­ci­pants deve­loped a clear vision for the economic future of north-eastern Germany that is based on new, disrup­tive inno­va­tions. The goal is to create strong economic incen­tives that will lead to the deve­lo­p­ment of new busi­ness models and streng­then small and medium-sized enter­prises (SMEs) in the region. In spring 2019, CAMPFIRE was selected by the Federal Ministry of Educa­tion and Rese­arch (BMBF) as one of 12 projects to receive €15 million in funding over the five-year imple­men­ta­tion phase.

The region of Northeast Germany

Northeast Germany is an important energy region that will play a key role in provi­ding the decar­bo­nised energy supply in the future. The region – which includes the cities of Rostock, Stral­sund, Greifs­wald and the Ucker­mark – is charac­te­rised by its large on-shore and off-shore wind capa­city and by its geogra­phical loca­tion along the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, in the vicinity of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland and Scan­di­na­vian states. The region is ideal for the deve­lo­p­ment and imple­men­ta­tion of energy tech­no­lo­gies that enable decen­tra­lised ammonia produc­tion and faci­li­tate green ammonia propul­sion systems for marine mobi­lity. This is due, in parti­cular, to the area’s exis­ting ammonia infra­st­ruc­ture for large-scale ferti­liser produc­tion, and to the presence of rene­wable energy compa­nies, ship­ping industry and their supply chains. Northeast Germany also boasts a world-class rese­arch land­s­cape in nano­tech­no­lo­gies and cata­lysis for energy appli­ca­tions, as well as exper­tise in economic, poli­tical and legal frameworks.

Importance of these innovations for the region

Tech­no­lo­gical deve­lo­p­ments will open up new oppor­tu­nities, above all for SMEs in the supply and service industry asso­ciated with the mari­time and wind power sectors. Among other bene­fits, parti­ci­pa­tion in new regional value chains based on green ammonia (‘hydrogen 2.0’) will offer these busi­nesses unique selling points for their products. In addi­tion, as climate policy goals increase demand for products compa­tible with sustaina­bi­lity-oriented struc­tural change, SMEs in these fields will gain a compe­ti­tive edge as leaders in sought-after tech­no­lo­gies. More broadly, these deve­lo­p­ments are expected to improve colla­bo­ra­tion across indus­tries, crea­ting a solid foun­da­tion for the emer­gence of other fields of innovation.