Materials expertise for the hydrogen economy

The Fraunhofer IMWS has a pioneering role in research and development for the industrial use of green hydrogen and is one of the leading institutes in this topic area within the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. Based on the institute's many years of experience and expertise in the characterization and development of materials, current work is primarily aimed at providing safe materials, components and systems for the hydrogen economy. The institute's activities also help to reduce investment and operating costs in order to increase the competitiveness of green hydrogen from water electrolysis compared to fossil fuels as well as to conventional hydrogen production processes such as steam reforming. In this way, green hydrogen can become a key element for the energy transition and a sustainable chemical industry.

Since the generation and storage of high-purity hydrogen places considerable demands on materials, excellent know-how in material characterization and diagnostics is an important prerequisite. We therefore analyze and characterize materials and components primarily with microstructural methods. This covers the entire process from generation (material selection, material development, power electronics), storage (high-pressure tanks) and transport (pipelines) to utilization (sensor components, elucidation of degradation and aging effects) as well as integration into the energy system (techno-economic assessments, feasibility analyses, simulation, system design). The focus is on conclusions from the material properties on the application behavior of electrolysis and fuel cell components as well as material interactions.

Through the cooperation of the different business units of the institute, a unique offer can be made that combines in-situ diagnostics with microstructure diagnostics and can also include electrochemical assessments in cooperation with partners. In addition, the Fraunhofer IMWS cooperates closely with the Fraunhofer Hydrogen Labs as well as the Service and Transfer Center Chemistry and Biosystems Engineering.


We offer:

  • Evaluation of reliability and lifetime of materials, components and systems for electrolyzers and fuel cells.
  • Failure analysis and feedback to both material and system design as well as to the production process
  • Optimized power electronics for electrolysis technologies
  • High resolution material analysis by SEM/EDX, TEM and tomography, including sample preparation and data preparation
  • Development and selection of suitable Gas-sensitive coatings 
  • Development of high-performance materials for the various electrolysis processes
  • Modeling, analysis, evaluation of cost, energy and material flows of an overall system for optimization of the system
  • Risk analyses for electrolysis systems and their safety-related material and system requirements



Electrolysis and fuel cells


Hydrogen tanks


Hydrogen sensors


Photoelectrochemical cells


Green H2 systems


Power electronics for H2 applications


Scalable solutions for green hydrogen production in South Africa