Transforming the global energy sector from fossil-based to zero-carbon by the second half of this century will be essential to limit climate change. Due to the fluctuating availability of renewable sources, energy storage will become even more important in near future. The capacity of chemical energy storage is orders of magnitude higher than that of batteries. Hydrogen is such a storage medium while hydrogen carriers such as methanol and ethanol, synthetic hydrocarbons such as methane (natural gas), higher molecular weight liquid hydrocarbon mixtures as a substitute for kerosene or diesel and, currently widely discussed, ammonia have significant advantages concerning power density and storage conditions. Nonetheless the extraction of hydrogen from different hydro- gen carriers through catalytic conversion, called fuel process- ing technology, will foreseeably become one of the central processes of future energy technology.
Since the beginning of the millennium, Fraunhofer IMM has evolved to be the most powerful non-university research unit worldwide working in the field of fuel processing. Projects based on industrial contract research or public funding are arranged along the entire technology chain: system design, process simulation, catalyst development, durability tests, reactor design, development of cost-effective manufacturing technologies, system control, system integration and system testing. Dynamic hydrogen supply for fuel cells, including the reforming of natural gas, LPG, methanol, ethanol, propylene glycol, gasoline, kerosene, diesel for stationary as well as mobile applications in the field of aircraft assistance, maritime applications and agricultural vehicles, transport and auto- motive is a major part of the portfolio. Combined heat and power units for small to medium stationary solutions, ammo- nia utilization for powering off-shore vessels and reducing carbon dioxide in industrial processes, the utilization of green hydrogen in power-to-gas applications and the purification of reformate or exhaust gases are further outstanding pro- ject examples. The construction, realization and testing of highly compact microstructured reactors for fuel processing, ammonia decomposition and catalytic methanation, the associated catalyst technology, the construction of complete fuel processor systems and their coupling with fuel cells and finally the automation of systems with and without fuel cells complete the expertise.