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.

Governance

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.

Background

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.