The CAMPFIRE alliance was selected by a jury of experts as one of 20 innovative initiatives in eastern Germany that will implement strategic innovation concepts and develop new fields of technology over the next five years. As part of the pilot programme WIR! – Wandel durch Innovation in der Region, the German federal government is providing initial funding support of up to €8 million for the project. CAMPFIRE is researching the decentralised production of green ammonia from renewable energy. The basic building blocks of the new process are ceramic thin-film membranes, which are highly efficient and durable.
Greifswald, 21 March 2019. ‘We are delighted that the jury has chosen our concept. We have worked on the concept intensively for over seven months, which has allowed us to create a broad knowledge alliance,’ said project manager Dr Angela Kruth of the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Research and Technology (INP) in Greifswald. CAMPFIRE now has 31 partners, almost two thirds of which are companies. The development of the concept was coordinated by INP, the Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility (IKEM) and Stralsund University of Applied Sciences (HOST). The alliance also received important support from its external partners, the Zentrum für Brennstofftechnik (ZBT) and the Institut für Kompetenz in der Automobilität (IKAM). The aim of the alliance is to establish a new, promising branch of industry in the project region of Northeast Germany by developing innovative energy technologies and linking the local energy sector with the maritime and chemical industries. The project region extends from Rostock to Szczecin, Poland.
The region has had the necessary know-how for many years. The CAMPFIRE alliance is bringing this expertise together for the first time to a new technological approach: the Northeast is home to successful companies in specialty shipbuilding and energy production, as well as large shipping companies and fertiliser producers. The participating scientific institutions are researching topics including nanotechnologies and fuel cells for the energy sector.
CO2 price helps climate-friendly technologies
The innovation concept focuses on the decentralised production of green ammonia from air and water using energy from wind and solar power plants. Ceramic thin-film membranes, which are highly efficient and durable, are the basic building blocks of this new process. This makes production processes economically feasible for the first time. However, the development of these materials still lies ahead – one of the first CAMPFIRE research projects. In parallel, CAMPFIRE experts are working on studies that consider the technological and economic factors involved in the sustainable production of ammonia and its use as fuel. Legal framework conditions must also be adapted and complex approval procedures prepared. The alliance is also promoting the development of a sustainable policy framework that creates the economic conditions for the project. ‘What is needed is a realistic CO2 price that also reflects long-term climate costs. Instead of subsidising fossil fuels, climate-neutral fuels must become economical. An appropriate CO2 price helps here,’ says Simon Schäfer-Stradowsky, managing director of IKEM. The higher the price, the faster the transition to new technologies.
Green ammonia for sustainable ship propulsion and fertiliser
The history of ammonia production dates back 150 years. The combination of nitrogen and hydrogen is one of the most frequently produced chemicals and a raw material used in fertilisers and other products. However, it is ammonia’s other important properties that are now taking centre stage: the compound is an excellent carbon-free energy storage medium, can be liquefied easily and has a high energy density. This makes green ammonia valuable for use in the zero-emission propulsion systems that will be developed for shipping in the coming years. It can also be used to produce sustainable fertiliser, which helps to secure global food production, and can be fed into stationary energy supply systems. ‘The new ammonia technologies are a crucial step in mastering future social challenges,’ says Kruth. Another goal, she says, is to export the high-tech solutions that are emerging in Northeast Germany to other areas around the world.
Download press release (German only)