“This is a great success for the University of Bremen, which is currently making its way toward sustainability and climate neutrality,” says Professor Jutta Günther, who has just taken up her post as the new President of the University of Bremen. “The Federal Ministry of Education and Research has made this enormous amount available for the large-scale research project Hydrogen for Bremen’s Industrial Transformation – or hyBit for short – because the university has already demonstrated with successful projects in numerous areas that it plays an important role in interdisciplinary research into hydrogen strategies. I am confident that in the coming years we will be able to make important contributions to the social and ecological transformation towards sustainability by working with our nonuniversity partners.”
Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger states: “I want to make Germany a hydrogen republic. After all, we will have to supply our industry with energy in a climate-neutral and reliable manner in the future. In doing so, we want to become independent of individual countries and, above all, work with partners who share our values. As a country of innovation, we now have the opportunity to make hydrogen technologies the next leading German export. The Bremen region and the hyBit project in particular can make an important contribution here, as research and industry work hand in hand. The hydrogen economy is being tested on a small scale for the entire country. That’s why we are supporting this special project with a total of 30 million euros.”
The central starting point of the project in Bremen’s industrial port is the steelworks of Arcelor Mittal. “Why? Because it is currently still one of the biggest air polluters in the region. It emits around six million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year – almost as much as the rest of the city combined,” says the project’s overall coordinator, Dr. Torben Stührmann. The steel industry is one of the leading industries that is launching the process of switching from coal and natural gas to green hydrogen through research and innovation. The hyBit project consortium is supported by 19 partners from science and industry who work together with a strong collaborative approach. Project partners include the Wuppertal Institute, the Bremer Institut Produktion und Logistik GmbH [Bremen Institute for Production and Logistics GmbH] at the University of Bremen, Fraunhofer IFAM (Bremen), Fraunhofer ICT (Karlsruhe), and the University of Applied Sciences Bremen as well as other key players in Bremen’s industry such as Arcelor Mittal Bremen, swb, and BLG. Eleven working groups from the engineering, humanities, and social sciences are represented at the University of Bremen, because the transformation towards sustainability is not only a technical challenge, but also a social and cultural challenge.
Objective: Establishment of a Hydrogen Hub in Bremen
With success: “Hydrogen for Bremen’s Industrial Transformation” is the title of the hyBit project. “Establishing a German hydrogen economy is best achieved through exemplary regional lighthouse projects – so-called hydrogen hubs. We want to pursue the development and design of hydrogen hubs as part of hyBit in Bremen and the region,” says Dr. Torben Stührmann. The head of Resilient Energy Systems in the Faculty of Production Engineering at the University of Bremen is an experienced expert in the introduction of hydrogen. He has been working on relevant projects for several years.
“The development of the hydrogen economy affects a wide range of levels in the electricity, heating, and mobility sectors. Hydrogen is the future – but many of those affected have had little experience with it so far,” explains Stührmann. “We’re talking about profound changes to markets, infrastructures, and work processes”. To put it plainly: abandoning fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas and switching to “green hydrogen” calls into question many processes and habits and requires immense adaptations – transformations that are being researched and prepared in an interdisciplinary manner in the hyBit research project.
What Is the hyBit Project All About?
“The key questions of hyBit are: how quickly can the conversion of hydrogen hubs be successful for society as a whole, what obstacles are to be expected along the way, and how can unexpected challenges be met at the local level during this conversion? Technical, economic, environmental, legal, and societal aspects are specifically taken into account. What findings on synergies and consideration processes support the transfer of smaller regional transformation processes to the larger scale of the hydrogen economy? How can hydrogen, a scarce energy carrier in the foreseeable future, be used quickly and with the greatest possible leverage in the transformation process?” explains Torben Stührmann. Several working groups combine diverse scientific methods to achieve the following results:
• A road map for the design of a green, hydrogen-based sustainable industry in Bremen’s industrial port, enabling a new link between the heating, electricity, and mobility sectors.
• A digital twin of Bremen’s industrial port as an example of the design of large-scale hydrogen hubs, taking into account the technical and social aspects.
• The digital twin is used for local monitoring in order to keep the pace of transformation at Bremen’s industrial port constantly high, even under changing conditions.
• The defossilization process is designed to be resilient in order to counter changes and uncertainties in the construction and operation of hydrogen hubs at an early stage. The availability of various resources such as hydrogen, electricity, heat, logistics, etc. is secured against external shocks, thus sustainably safeguarding the climate neutrality, cost-effectiveness, and availability of industrial processes.
• A network of hydrogen stakeholders from politics, business, and science creates a strong hydrogen economy in northern Germany.
“hyBit will map and accelerate the transformation process toward a hydrogen economy in a monitoring framework by planning necessary measures prudently and avoiding undesirable developments or delays as far as possible. If we succeed in doing this as a model here in Bremen's industrial port, we are very confident that we will be able to transfer these findings to other locations in Germany and Europe that are undergoing a similar structural change,” explains Torben Stührmann. “Through hyBit, our future sustainable hydrogen economy should be more resilient to external influencing factors and give our economy and society more security. The current development of energy prices and the massive impact on our everyday lives and our economy - also very directly here at the location of the project in Bremen's industrial port - make us aware of the enormous topicality of hyBit. ”
Interdisciplinary Expertise at the BEST Research Center
The project’s transfer focus is the work of the university research center BEST – Bremen Research Center for Energy Systems, which opened in spring 2022. This is where the results for the transfer are compiled and where professors from a wide range of disciplines work together on an interdisciplinary basis. “BEST brings together the extensive expertise of the University of Bremen and the state’s nonuniversity research institutes and universities in order to solve the future issues of energy systems and energy supply,” says Professor Johanna Myrzik, the spokesperson of the research center. “The interdisciplinary approach is crucial here, since the right answers to complex links between sustainability, reliable supply, social acceptance, and energy-system competitiveness cannot be found alone – they only arise together”. A total of 19 working groups from the faculties of Physics/Electrical Engineering, Mathematics/Computer Science, Production Engineering – Mechanical Engineering and Process Engineering, Law, Economics, Social Sciences, and Cultural Studies are anchored in BEST.
BEST is part of the Energy Science domain, the relatively new research and transfer focus in the Wissenschaftsplan 2025 academic plan of the state of Bremen. The state is supporting the facilities with start-up grants.
You can find a background article on hydrogen research at the University of Bremen here: https://www.up2date.uni-bremen.de/en/research/developing-energy-sources-of-the-future
Dr. Torben Stührmann
University of Bremen
Faculty of Production Engineering – Mechanical Engineering and Process Engineering / Department of Resilient Energy Systems
artec | Sustainability Research Center
Phone: +49 421 218-64896
Professor Johanna Myrzik
BEST – Bremen Research Center for Energy Systems
Phone: +49 421 218-62442