The Linde Group has inaugurated its Hydrogen Centre in Lohhof, north of Munich as part of the hydrogen highway system needed to make the hydrogen economy a reality. The centre was opened by the Minster of Transport, Mr Tiefensee and Prof. Reitzle, President of the new Linde Group at a gathering of press and participants in the project.

gasworld was there to see the opening and experience first hand what a real filling system was all about.

Back in February 2005, gasworld attended the second hydrogen forum in Berlin, sponsored by the Linde Group. The attendees were shown an animated video of what the hydrogen highway of the future would look like and what a hydrogen filling station would look like and how it would operate. 18 months on from this attractive video we have reality.

Linde has invested €3m in a multi-purpose filling station to pave the way for buses and cars to use hydrogen for fuel instead of gasoline or diesel.

Mr Wolfgang Tiefensee, Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development was there to officially open the Linde Hydrogen Centre. He presented a government view on the need to move to cleaner fuels and renewable energy. He began though with the significance of the day \\$quot;“ the 9th of October \\$quot;“ which he said was the day in 1989 that the reunification of east and west Germany began (with a peaceful uprising and demonstration in Leipzig and before the wall of Berlin fell) \\$quot;“ creating a future for Germany and for Europe. He stated: "Here we stand today, a number of years later with as important a significance where we launch the future for Germany and for Europe in Hydrogen." He went on to declare that the federal government of Germany had committed €500m to invest and research the hydrogen and alternative fuels technology. He said the German government was supporting the move towards a bio-fuels economy by 2010 and that by 2018-20 the next technology in the market must be commercialised.

He declared that people need educating on what the hydrogen economy was all about and that there were still a number of critical issues to be solved \\$quot;“ such as how do you make hydrogen (green hydrogen) without the associated production of CO2? How do we solve the hydrogen storage solution? "At them moment 95% of all car, trucks and buses in Germany run off petroleum products. Over 70% of energy used in homes is for heating the home or water. This has to change and we need companies such as Linde to lead the way in technology development and change," he continued.

Prof. Reitzle stated that research from oil company Total had shown that $3 trillion is needed to be used to modernise the petro-economy which has a life span of another 40-60 years.

Prof. Wolfgang Reitzle opened his part of the day with a very interesting statement: "Small, fast, 100% emission free; a fuel cell car you can order from the internet, wouldn\\$quot;t that be great. It is in fact a reality, the only problem is the car is 20 cm long and is run off a small solar cell!"

However, he went on to say that this should be a reality for a commercial vehicle in the future. He was proud of Linde\\$quot;s achievements in this area in which Linde has supplied to technology to 40 hydrogen filling facilities around the world and that all the liquid hydrogen centres used Linde cryogenic technology. "The Hydrogen Centre opened today is more than just a filling facility. It is there as a testing site, a development and training establishment for the future. This is an important milestone in supply of hydrgeon in the future. We need hydrogen to be more widely available," he continued.

Interestingly he likened the next phase of development in hydrogen to that of early air travel. 100 years ago, Allcock and Brown flew across the Atlantic for the first time. 50 years after that date man landed on the moon. We need the same vision for the hydrogen economy and technology," he enthused. "Hydrogen is the obvious next step, less carbon more hydrogen. The perfect solution will be to generate hydrogen from water and not fossil fuels but we must take one step at a time and create an affordable solution."

Prof. Reitzle stated that research from oil company Total had shown that $3 trillion is needed to be used to modernise the petro-economy, which has a life span of another 40-60 years. So the investment in the hydrogen and other alternative fuels geared for the near future is miniscule (in Germany €1.5 Bn). "The cost of hydrogen technology is no more than that for optimising the petroleum based technology," he concluded.

The final speaker was Dr Aldo Belloni, member of the Linde executive board. He referred to the recent acquisition of BOC in which he wanted to inform us that BOC was the only other company that had invested in the hydrogen economy as Linde \\$quot;“ and hence, the merging of the two capabilities was a major step forward. BOC operated over 100 hydrogen plants around the world and had participated in many of the hydrogen projects as well.

Dr Belloni went on to describe some of the technical aspects of the hydrogen filling centre, which according to him had a dual purpose; filling liquid and compressed hydrogen. "Linde has installed a 17,600 litre cryogenic tank capable of storing liquid hydrogen at \\$quot;“253OC. The capacity is enough to fill 150 cars on a regular basis with a fill time of five minutes per car. Any boil off from the liquid operations was compressed and fed to the compressed hydrogen filling facility (operating at 700 bar) and capable of filling 1200 cm3 an hour of hydrogen. The centre is already geared to be the busiest in the world."

The centre was currently supplied from the liquid hydrogen production facility in Inglestadt but Linde were investing €30m in a new liquid hydrogen facility in Leuna (near Leipzig). The aim is to produce hydrogen from biomass, truly green hydrogen. He finished his presentation by stating that Linde was channelling investment in the \\$quot;˜biomass to hydrogen\\$quot; technology solution, which is CO2 neutral.

Finally attendees were shown around the hydrogen centre and had the opportunity to see cars and buses being filled in reality and also to drive hydrogen fuelled cars supplied by Mercedes, GM and BMW.