Strategic Research Field Hydrogen Technologies at Fraunhofer ISC

Hydrogen technologies for a climate-neutral future

Fraunhofer ISC is active in various research projects and groups, working on the development, optimization, and analysis of materials, components, and sensor technologies along the hydrogen value chain. These are utilized for various applications, including processing and scaling up to pre-industrial TRL (Technology Readiness Level).


Materials and analytics for hydrogen and carbon dioxide

To achieve the required properties for industrial use, material design is conducted – if necessary – down to the molecular/atomic level. This applies to both the development of new materials and the optimization of existing ones.

Innovative sensor technologies, tailored to each specific application and operating environment, enable safe handling of hydrogen. Within specially designed test facilities, materials can be tested for their compatibility with hydrogen, even at high temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees Celsius. Through high-end material analytics, we are capable of investigating material damage and determining the causes of damage.

Our competencies along the H2/CO2 value chain

Materials and technologies for the production, storage, transportation and use of hydrogen

CO2 Capturing


Transport / Storage / Distribution

Final use

Developments and projects at Fraunhofer ISC

Safety through visibility

Particulate powder makes hydrogen visible


The patented hydrogen indicator utilizes inexpensive supraparticles, microscale particles, to render invisible hydrogen visible. Without the need for electricity or complex measuring devices, the indicator can detect even low concentrations of hydrogen, such as those present in gas pipe leaks, to initiate appropriate measures.

Hydrogen detection in real time: simple, fast and electricity-free

A major advantage of the new hydrogen indicator is its small size, which allows a wide range of applications, for example as an additive in coatings. In addition, it has very fast response times and is able to detect hydrogen exposure without any power supply or complex measurement technology. The color change triggered by hydrogen can be observed in real time with the bare eye, which enables rapid detection and localization of leaks in particular.

Indicator additives offer a wide range of applications

  • Safety additive for components with complex geometry, e.g. pipes, flanges or valves
  • Increased occupational safety thanks to gasochromic pigments that can be directly integrated into work clothing (e.g. gloves)
  • Maintenance of plants
    • Offshore
    • Remote onshore
    • Indoor
  • Safety system at hydrogen filling stations and in vehicles

Combined Hydrogen/Oxygen Barrier Coatings for lossless Transport and extended Material life

Custom Materials Solutions for the Hydrogen Sector


Novel hydrogen/oxygen barrier coatings address the challenges of sustainable hydrogen production, storage and transportation. Even during production, e.g. by electrolysis of water, the resulting hydrogen must be separated from oxygen due to its high flammability and explosiveness. In addition, today's gas-carrying containers and pipelines must be equipped to reduce gas migration. By tailoring the barrier properties of surface coatings, the two gases are prevented from mixing. This minimizes pressure losses and, above all, the loss of hydrogen during transport and storage. In addition, the service life of hydrogen pipelines and tanks can be significantly increased thanks to improved corrosion protection.

Combined oxygen/hydrogen barrier coatings based on ORMOCER® are suitable for this purpose. They are already successfully used in numerous applications and offer an adaptable and flexible material solution for products and applications in the hydrogen sector.


H2/O2 Barrier Coatings PDF

ORMOCER® Coatings

BMBF/BMWK Project "HySecunda":
Scalable solutions for green hydrogen production in South Africa

The Fraunhofer joint project "HySecunda" aims to develop practical solutions for green hydrogen production in South Africa. Nine Fraunhofer Institutes and the Fraunhofer Academy are working together for three years to find optimized solutions for the production, storage and certification of green hydrogen.
South Africa has abundant renewable energy sources such as solar and wind that can be used to produce clean and sustainable hydrogen. The project "HySecunda" aims to accelerate the development of suitable infrastructure and reduce production costs in order to establish South Africa as a major hydrogen producer for Germany and Europe. In addition, capacity building measures will be implemented to support the region in the use of hydrogen-based fuels for aviation.


Tasks of the Fraunhofer ISC in the project

The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC is playing a key role in the HySecunda project, working, for example, on the development of barrier layers based on ORMOCER® and reliable hydrogen sensors. The aim is to make the production, storage, transport and use of green hydrogen efficient and safe. ORMOCER® barrier coatings are intended to extend the service life of containers used in water electrolysis.
The Fraunhofer ISC is also working on new material concepts for pressurized hydrogen storage tanks and on H2/O2-tight coatings for pipelines. Another focus is the simple, safe and immediate detection of hydrogen leaks. The institute is developing current-free sensors that can detect existing or past hydrogen leaks by a simple color change, without the need for additional aids.
Sensor modules are being developed to monitor hydrogen-carrying pipes and tanks for expansion stresses and early detection of material failures. This will allow better utilization of the service life of the materials used and reduce maintenance costs. For this purpose, flexible ultrasonic transducers are being developed that continuously monitor the pipes or tanks over a large area (~ m²) for incipient embrittlement or cracks.


Website »HySecunda«

Project "SUNGATE": New Technology Platform for Sustainable Solar Fuel Production Using Artificial Photosynthesis

The EU project "SUNGATE" was launched in October 2023 under the leadership of Fraunhofer IME in cooperation with 11 partners from industry and research. The main objective of the project is to develop an innovative, sustainable and cost-effective biohybrid technology based on artificial photosynthesis for highly efficient and scalable production of solar fuels.
The unique SUNGATE technology is modular and scalable and enables flexible, defossilized production of solar fuels for various applications. Unlike established photoelectrochemical systems, the SUNGATE technology does not use toxic or critical raw materials. It uses only sunlight as an energy source and converts water and CO2, inexhaustible raw materials, into solar fuels such as methanol or formate.


Catalysts and non-toxic hydrogels for sustainable solar fuels

The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC and its Particle Technology Group are the main contributors to the SUNGATE project. They are working on the development of catalysts for new anodic half-cells and on biodegradable, non-toxic hydrogels for embedding the photocatalytically active (bio)hybrid components. Through its Center for Applied Analytics, the Fraunhofer ISC is also contributing extensive analytical expertise to test and validate the new developments. Special methods for the preparation and analysis process are also being developed.

Project "Power-to-MEDME": Large-scale Production of Green Hydrogen Energy in Chile

The BMBF-funded project focuses on exploring the potential for producing hydrogen and liquid fuels from solar energy. Researchers are investigating not only technical issues, but also the economic, logistical and socio-economic aspects of scaling up. They are also supporting the installation of a pilot production facility for methanol and dimethyl ether in the country.
As part of the Power-to-MEDME research project, scientists are also investigating the materials needed for each step in the process chain. This includes the development of catalysts for electrolysis and the collection of data on the design of transportation logistics for the use of DME and other Power-to-X fuels in Chile and for export.


Energy-efficient processes for reduced CO2 emissions

Special attention is paid to the thermal processes of clinker firing, which play an important role in the CO2 balance. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC with its Center for High Temperature Lightweight Construction HTL in Bayreuth, Germany, is developing innovative measurement methods to enable more effective process control. These methods are based on autonomous sensors that are mobile or integrated into the plants. The focus is on the rotary kiln and the Calcine Looping Process (CaL), where the temperature and atmosphere distribution as well as the wear of the refractory components are to be measured.