SolTech Student Board Meeting (May 16-17 2024)

The SolTech Student Board convened on May 16-17 for a series of educational visits and meetings aimed at exploring cutting-edge technologies and research facilities. The itinerary included site visits to Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies, various laboratories at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), a cultural visit to the Erlangen Bergkirchweih festival, as well as a tour of Bosch’s fuel cell power module facility in Bamberg.

The day began with an enlightening visit to Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies. The company is pioneering a revolutionary method to handle hydrogen, which is considered the best energy carrier but is notoriously difficult to store. Hydrogenious has developed a Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier (LOHC) technology that binds molecular hydrogen to a thermal oil. This innovation makes hydrogen significantly safer and easier to transport while also using the existing machinery of fossil fuels, addressing one of the key challenges in hydrogen energy utilization.

In the afternoon, the students toured several laboratories at FAU, starting with the Bachmann Group, who presented their groundbreaking technique called Atomic-Layer Additive Manufacturing (ALAM) which they continue to develop in collaboration with Atlant 3D. This method involves controlled surface chemistry with spatially constrained flows of molecular precursors delivered via a microfluidic nozzle, depositing one monolayer of solid with each pass, offering Angström-level vertical resolution. Next, they were welcomed to the Spieker Group’s Center for Nanoanalysis and Electron Microscopy (CENEM), which boasts state-of-the-art instrumentation for microscopic and analytical characterization of materials at the atomic scale, particularly the students visited the FIB-SEM and the HR-TEM facilities. The final lab visit of the day was to the Brabec Group at i-MEET, where research focuses on advanced semiconductors for electronics and energy technology, as well as the aging of photovoltaic cells under certain conditions.

The day concluded with a visit to the Erlangen Bergkirchweih, one of the oldest and largest beer festivals in Bavaria. This cultural experience provided a relaxed environment for informal discussions and networking among board members.

On the following day, the board members enjoyed a walking tour of Erlangen, which provided historical context and a deeper appreciation for the city’s academic and cultural heritage. The final visit was to Bosch’s facility in Bamberg, here Oliver Langmar, a former SolTech student from FAU, explained their fuel cell power module. This system generates electricity from hydrogen and is primarily used in commercial vehicles, particularly for long-distance applications. It comprises a fuel cell stack and submodules necessary for hydrogen and air management, making it suitable for various vehicle sizes and power requirements.

The SolTech Student Board meeting was a resounding success, offering valuable insights into advanced technologies and cutting-edge research. The visits to Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies, FAU labs, and Bosch highlighted significant innovations in hydrogen energy, nanotechnology, and fuel cell applications. The cultural and historical experiences in Erlangen further enriched the meeting, fostering a sense of community and shared purpose among the student board members.