The “H2BlackForest” lighthouse project turns the northern Black Forest region into a hub for “biointelligent hydrogen (H2) research”.

© IFF Universität Stuttgart; Visualisierung: Lutz Wahler

As Germany’s energy transition ramps up, many federal states are competing to become centres of excellence in carbon-neutral energy futures. In April, Baden-Württemberg awarded the RegioWIN prize for a joint proposal from the Black Forest Campus (Campus Schwarzwald), the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) and the University of Stuttgart, to turn the northern Black Forest region into a hub for “biointelligent hydrogen (H2) research”.

The “H2BlackForest” lighthouse project is split into four sub-projects that will research and enable green H2 production and explore a circular economy around it. "BioRoh" will investigate how biotic raw materials, for example wood, can be used as the basis for sustainable H2 production. "FastCell" will look at methods for mass producing fuel cell stacks through high-speed assembly. And "ReduCO2" accelerates CO2-neutral production in the region with sustainable H2-based technologies. While "WisFo" is dedicated to forging economic synergies in partnership with local SMEs.

On receiving the award, which will also unlock funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the managing director of Campus Schwarzwald, Stefan Bogenrieder, said in a press release, ”We are convinced that this will give the region a great leap forward in innovation, climate neutrality and sustainability." The winners are now looking for more industrial partners, municipalities and public utilities to participate in the funding. They hope to add EUR 5 million to the state budget of EUR 12 million and the EU funds.

The project’s initiator and head of the Fraunhofer IPA Thomas Bauernhansl emphasises the role of so-called Industry 4.0 technologies in their plans: "Automation and artificial intelligence play an essential role in the project,” he says in the release. “Therefore, we are also interested in cooperating with companies from these industries."