Hydrogen technology - a topic for the future

22. April 2021

Germany, and Saxony in particular, want to be a global role model in the use of novel climate-friendly hydrogen energy. To make this a reality, research and development work is essential. Dresden International University has set itself the task of aligning academic further education specifically with the market and training in the region for the region. At the beginning of 2021, a new master's degree program in hydrogen technology and economics was therefore created, which will play a decisive role in shaping the technology of the future by training practice-oriented experts at the interfaces of energy, information and business management.

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The scientific directors of the course are Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. DEng. Dr. h.c. mult. Hans Müller-Steinhagen, former rector of TU Dresden and since fall 2020 president of DIU and Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Antonio Hurtado, holder of the professorship for hydrogen and nuclear energy technology at TU Dresden. In the following interview in the TU supplement of the Sächsische Zeitung, Prof. Hurtado explains the approach to the degree program and its added value for the region.

Why does Dresden International University focus on hydrogen technology?

Prof. Hurtado: Hydrogen as a secondary energy carrier is becoming increasingly important in terms of climate protection and sustainability, both nationally and internationally. Numerous teaching and research focuses such as hydrogen liquefaction, hydrogen combustion, optimization of the storage path, development of hydrogen-based power plants with hybrid character, further development and functionalization of materials (e.g. lightweight materials for mobility, improved electrodes for hydrogen production), implementation of holistic system analyses, etc. belong á priori to the development of hydrogen-based energy systems. The energy model region Lusatia is predestined for the successive implementation of such systems, combined with a scientific-technical and social radiance, the creation of new jobs as well as the education and training of corresponding specialists in this field. It is the DIU's self-image to assume social responsibility and to contribute to sustainable development with excellent educational programs. The planned master's program in hydrogen management is a prime example of this.

What makes the new degree program so unique?

Prof. Hurtado: The master's program takes a holistic approach and helps to train graduates with both technical and management expertise in the field of hydrogen-based energy systems. Some of the study contents are mentioned here as examples:

  • Energy technology and energy industry framework for sustainable reduction of carbon dioxide emissions
  • Current and future role of hydrogen as a secondary energy carrier, particularly within the energy sectors of industry, households and transport
  • Technologies for the production of hydrogen (high-temperature electrolysis, alkaline electrolysis)
  • Technical aspects of transport (liquid or gaseous) and storage (metal structures, tanks, caverns, etc.) and risk potentials from a safety perspective.
  • Safety aspects, acceptance and material engineering challenges

A systems understanding of the overall process with the help of material flow and risk analyses, life cycle assessment, input/output analyses is essential. As an academic educational pathway complementary to university education, the program broadens the students' scientific and practice-oriented perspective. In order to impart the competencies and knowledge described above, the master's program is clustered into general basic modules, technological modules, and practice transfer modules. The study program is an excellent prerequisite for professional development in the energy technology sector. Without doubt, the master's thesis can be carried out in cooperation with business and industry institutions.

What does the study program benefit the region as well as sustainable development as a business location?

Prof. Hurtado: The successive establishment of a hydrogen economy pursues the goal of introducing a sustainable hydrogen economy in order to make a significant contribution to the holistic decarbonization of all energy sectors. These activities are directly oriented to the requirements of structural change in the Lausitz coalfield. Social dialogue based on a detailed technology assessment is indispensable for this. Graduates of DIU will contribute to the development of the hydrogen infrastructure in the regional, national as well as international context and will be ambassadors for the establishment of practical networks as well as for the direct transfer of the acquired knowledge with regard to a sustainable energy supply.

About the study program