On the site of the OMV service station at Stuttgart Airport, OMV in cooperation with Linde AG and Daimler AG will be opening Baden-Württemberg’s first publicly accessible hydrogen filling station on June 17, 2009.

This successful cooperation between the participating companies is subsidized by the State of Baden-Württemberg. The project is centered on the use of hydrogen as an environment-friendly energy medium.

Hydrogen filling stations represent an important step toward reducing dependence on fossil fuels in the long term and coming a step closer to emission-free sustainable mobility. The innovative hydrogen filling station will serve fuel cell vehicles of the latest generation, such as the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL, with 700-bar high-pressure technology. Small-series production of this vehicle is to commence later this year in Germany.

The proximity of the OMV service station to Stuttgart Airport – a major transport hub – and to Daimler AG’s research and development centers, together with the cooperative contact between the two companies, is providing the basis for the establishment of Baden-Württemberg’s first publicly accessible hydrogen filling station. Within the framework of a public-private partnership, the hydrogen station will provide an important impulse for a future supply network for this state, thus supporting the operation of locally emission-free electric vehicles on the basis of fuel cell technology.

The development of new drive technologies is crucial to Baden-Württemberg’s automotive industry and will ensure that it can emerge with renewed strength from the current crisis and participate in the race for international technological leadership. Hydrogen technology plays a decisive role here. With the opening of this filling station the basis for the establishment of a public infrastructure of the energy medium hydrogen is provided. “It is not sufficient to develop new drive technologies. In addition an appropriate infrastructure is needed,” said Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of the Environment, Tanja Gönner. “This initiative is a key component to a future-proof energy utilization and a sustainable mobility,” said the Minister about the community project. The state was therefore supporting this project with the sum of 800,000 euros from the program “Zukunftsoffensive Baden-Württemberg” (Baden-Württemberg’s Campaign for the Future), Gönner continued.

As a leading gas supplier and the world’s largest manufacturer of hydrogen facilities, Linde has a wealth of expertise throughout the hydrogen value creation chain – from hydrogen production to filling technology.

This company, the world’s pre-eminent outfitter of hydrogen filling stations, distributes filling technology in 15 countries. The new hydrogen station at Stuttgart Airport incorporates ion-compressor technology developed by Linde. With this new compression process, cars and electric buses powered by fuel cells can be refueled within a matter of minutes – just like vehicles powered by conventional internal combustion engines – with hydrogen at a pressure of either 350 or 700 bar. The gaseous hydrogen is also supplied by Linde AG. Operation with hydrogen produces only electrical energy along with water vapor. No hydrocarbons or sulfur oxides are generated – and not even carbon dioxide (CO2), which arises during combustion of fossil fuels. Hydrogen as a fuel for automotive drive technologies is free of emissions detrimental to the climate and to the environment in both its production from regenerative energy media and in its transformation into electricity. “As the pioneer of hydrogen technology we have a particular responsibility to press ahead toward hydrogen-based sustainable mobility,” said Dr. Aldo Belloni, member of the Board of Management of Linde AG. “Establishing the infrastructure for this future-oriented energy medium calls for a concerted effort among the partners involved. We are delighted to have realized a filling station concept of the latest generation together with OMV. With our newly developed 700-bar technology, vehicles can be refueled rapidly, safely, and in a user-friendly manner.”

“Our fuel cell vehicles have already demonstrated their suitability for everyday operation. To turn emission-free driving into reality, we now need a comprehensive network of hydrogen filling stations,” said Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG with responsibility for Group research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development. “We therefore wholeheartedly welcome and support the initiative of OMV.” Daimler already presented the first fuel cell vehicle in 1994; the Group has since invested more than a billion euros in fuel cell development. With more than 100 test vehicles and around 4.4 million kilometers covered, the Stuttgart carmaker has one of the largest fuel cell fleets in the world. The start of small-series production of the B-Class F-CELL, planned for 2009, is now continuing the success story of this drive concept.

OMV operates around 400 filling stations in Germany, with a clear focus on the south of the country with the two states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, along with further filling stations in the states of Thuringia and Saxony. The hydrogen filling station project at Stuttgart Airport is the first of its kind in Germany for OMV. “OMV is already intensively dealing today with the mobility of tomorrow. In our function as energy providers we have a responsibility with regard to the fuels of the future. Hydrogen, currently in the development and testing phase, is one of the possible alternatives for the mobility of the future,” said Dr. Gerhard Roiss, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of OMV Aktiengesellschaft. “We are therefore very happy to be able to support Daimler’s research and development activities with our new hydrogen filling station, together with the State of Baden-Württemberg.” The project is being supported by the OMV Future Energy Fund, established in June 2006 as an independent organization for the financial support of projects for renewable energy forms, with a contribution of more than 100 million euros. With HyCentA (Hydrogen Center Austria), a further project of OMV with headquarters on the campus of the Technical University of Graz, the energy supplier has long since been gathering invaluable experience in the future-oriented field of research and development with hydrogen technology.

Hydrogen production:
The hydrogen required for the filling station is generated in the so-called steam reforming process: In the steam reformer hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide are initially produced at high temperatures from natural gas and water vapor in a reactor. In the following stage, steam is added to convert the carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

The hydrogen fuel derived by this means already leads to CO2 savings of up to 30 percent, as compared with modern diesel vehicles (basis of comparison 120 g CO2/km). Nevertheless, in the medium to long term, there will be no substitute for hydrogen production from renewable energy sources. The Linde Group is currently carrying out intensive work on innovative solutions for sustainable hydrogen production. An important step towards the marketable production of regenerative hydrogen has been reached with a new process for deriving hydrogen from biogenic raw materials. For this purpose Hydromotive GmbH, a subsidiary of the Linde Group, will establish a demonstration unit for the production of hydrogen from glycerin in the chemical town of Leuna in the middle of this year. Glycerin, a byproduct arising in the manufacture of biodiesel, can thereby be put to practical use. The hydrogen generated by this means makes for carbon dioxide savings of up to 90 percent as compared with a conventional drive unit.

Further approaches to regenerative production, such as hydrogen production from wind and solar energy through electrolysis, or biochemical and thermochemical generation from algae, are also being pursued by the Linde Group; these are promising prospects as long as the local conditions are appropriate.

In a project not connected with Linde, the State of Baden-Württemberg has also promoted the development of gasification technology and will be subsidizing a demonstration unit near Geislingen as of 2010. In this unit, biomass – for example scrap wood – is gasified in the AER (absorption-enhanced reforming) process to yield a gas with a very high hydrogen content.

Fuel cell operation:
The B-Class F-CELL is fitted with a fuel cell drive unit of the latest generation and is thus both far more compact and more powerful than previous fuel cell systems. The newly devised stack, although around 40 percent smaller, has a 30 percent higher output; with a 16 percent lower consumption, this unit is highly efficient. The B-Class F-CELL also has favorable cold-starting ability. This is made possible by innovations such as the electric turbocharger for air supply and the new moisturizing and demoisturizing systems. The electric motor develops a peak output of 100 kW/136 hp and a maximum torque of 320 newton-meters. The B-Class F-CELL thus fulfills high driving dynamic requirements that exceed the level of a two-liter gasoline car, and attains an operating range of up to 400 kilometers.

The functional principle of the proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC):
The fuel cell is a galvanic cell that converts the reaction energy of an introduced fuel (e.g. hydrogen) and an oxidant (e.g. atmospheric oxygen) into electrical energy. A fuel cell is not an energy storage medium like an accumulator battery, but an energy converter. The proton exchange membrane fuel cell normally uses hydrogen as an energy medium and attains an efficiency factor of around 60 percent. The key element of the PEMFC is a polymer membrane that is permeable only to protons (H+ ions), the so-called proton exchange membrane (PEM). The oxidant, usually atmospheric oxygen, is thus spatially separated from the reducing agent, hydrogen. The fuel, in this case hydrogen, is catalytically oxidized at the anode and releases electrons to form hydrogen ions (protons), which pass through the ion exchange membrane into the chamber with the oxidant. The electrons flow out of the fuel cell via an electrical consumer, e.g. an electric motor, to the cathode. At the cathode the oxidant, in this case oxygen, on binding the electrons is reduced to anions, which react directly with the hydrogen ions (protons) to produce water. Along with electrical energy this reaction also generates heat, which can be used for example to heat the vehicle.

The hydrogen filling station structure in Germany:
The establishment of a public hydrogen infrastructure is crucial to the successful introduction of hydrogen-powered vehicles. The first centers (“clusters”), such as those in Berlin and Hamburg, have already been established. Of the currently almost 30 hydrogen stations in Germany, six are integrated into public filling station operations. Germany is thus the European pioneer. The cooperative project being carried out at Stuttgart Airport’s OMV filling station is now Germany’s seventh publicly accessible hydrogen station and the first in the State of Baden-Württemberg.

Operation of public hydrogen filling stations will only become economically viable once a sufficient number of hydrogen-powered vehicles are on the roads. Achieving a broad-based market introduction and establishing a public infrastructure will require a coordinated, cooperative, and long-term three-stage approach involving all interest groups.

First: Focused cluster formation – demand-based grouping in urban areas for technically and economically appropriate capacity utilization. Five to ten filling stations are already sufficient to cover the initial requirements of a large city.

Second: Corridors – connecting the urban clusters by means of corridors along the main arteries. Here too, initial plans have been drawn up, e.g. for linking the Berlin and Hamburg H2 clusters along the autobahn.
Third: Comprehensive area coverage.

Source: Daimler AG