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3 June 2024

Hydrogen Laboratory at Westfälische Hochschule: “H2 Solution Lab” enters the Planning Phase

The starting signal has been given for the planning phase for the construction of the "H2 Solution Lab", a pioneering hydrogen laboratory at the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences. Mona Neubaur, NRW Minister for Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy handed over the notice for the first partial sum of 1.2 million euros.

The "H2 Solution Lab" is the first project in Gelsenkirchen that was recommended for funding by the Structural Strengthening Council in 2023 as part of the "5-Site Program". Funds of EUR 1.2 million have been earmarked for planning the laboratory, and construction costs are expected to be EUR 40.7 million. After the funding was approved, the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences (WH) is now entering the 18-month planning phase. The focus is on the conception and planning of the building on the Gelsenkirchen campus and the laboratory infrastructure to be integrated with a focus on hydrogen technology. The construction of the "H2 Solution Lab" is planned for shortly after the completion of the planning phase.

"With the 'H2 Solution Lab' we are creating the basis for the development and transfer of future-proof technologies for the production and application of green hydrogen. We are very pleased that we can now start taking further important steps in the implementation of this major project, which offers new perspectives for the university and the region. The construction of the 'H2 Solution Lab' is a major effort that can only be realized in close cooperation with the City of Gelsenkirchen and numerous players in the region," agreed University President Prof. Dr. Bernd Kriegesmann and Prof. Dr. Michael Brodmann, Vice President for Research and Transfer.

A new laboratory with around 2,000 m² is planned, which will offer all the necessary development, demonstration and transfer structures. The laboratory's structure is intended to enable the flexible development of findings for research and transfer to components, subsystems or entire systems. The range extends from valves, electrolyzer, fuel cell and burner systems as well as compressors and storage systems to complete hydrogen production or hydrogen utilization systems. There is a great need for medium-performance hydrogen system technology, especially for small and medium-sized companies. "As an industrial company anchored in the region with many years of experience in the hydrogen sector, we very much welcome the fact that solutions for the market ramp-up of hydrogen are being developed here in the region," said Thomas Wessel, Chairman of the WH University Council and Board Member of Evonik Industries AG. "This approach represents the cooperation between science and business in the best sense."

"The start of the planning phase for the new laboratory building marks a significant milestone for Gelsenkirchen. The 'H2 Solution Lab' not only offers potential for the creation of new added value and jobs, but also underlines our city's long-standing hydrogen expertise," emphasized Gelsenkirchen's Mayor Karin Welge. "From production and transport to use in chemical processes or heat generation in industry - Gelsenkirchen is a pioneer in this field. With historically grown pipeline networks and a university that has been conducting applied research on hydrogen for more than two decades, we are well equipped.”

Economic Development Director Simon Nowack also sees the new laboratory building as another important step: “The 'H2 Solution Lab' fits seamlessly into the road map for the development of the Gelsenkirchen hydrogen site and the funds promised for the new building represent one of the largest individual grants to date within the framework of the 5-site program.”

“I am very pleased that the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences is getting involved in the concrete planning of the “H2 Solution Lab for Hydrogen Applications”. This forms the basis for the construction of an important hydrogen competence center. The market ramp-up of hydrogen is the core of our energy transition and is driving the transformation of small and medium-sized companies in North Rhine-Westphalia in particular. I am convinced that the hydrogen competence center will make a significant contribution to this,” said Economics and Climate Protection Minister Mona Neubaur at the handover.

New degree program contributes to hydrogen strategy

In addition to the new laboratory building, the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences is also adjusting its degree program to focus on hydrogen. The new bachelor's degree program "Hydrogen Systems and Renewable Energies" will start in the winter semester of 2024/25. The university is thus responding to the urgent need for well-trained engineers in the field of hydrogen and alternative energy technologies.

Background of the “5-location program”:

The 5-location program, funded by the federal government and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is intended to promote sustainable structural projects in the five municipalities and districts particularly affected by the phase-out of coal. Gelsenkirchen is one of these five locations - alongside Duisburg, Hamm, Herne and the district of Unna. All project applications for the program go through an application process in a multi-stage qualification process. In the “Structural Strengthening Council”, representatives from specialist ministries, the district governments, the five locations and relevant social groups such as chambers, employment administration, unions, universities and nature conservation select the projects for funding.

Source: Westphalian University, University Communications Department
Photo: MWIKE NRW Prof. Dr. Michael Brodmann (middle), Vice President of Research and Transfer, as well as Thomas Wessel (far left), Chair of the University Council and Chair of Evonik Industries AG.