Funded by the Scottish Government, four awardees from three Scottish Higher Education Institutes have been collectively awarded over £97K to begin collaborative projects with colleagues from German Institutes through the RSE’s Scotland-Germany Hydrogen Research Scheme.

This new Scheme seeks to foster research- and practice-based partnerships between Scotland and Germany to develop hydrogen-related research which can inform Scottish Government policy objectives and lead the way towards a decarbonised future.

Applications were welcomed for projects that focused on: optimising the production of green hydrogen; hydrogen storage; and hydrogen distribution/transport.

As well as supporting Scotland’s ambitious Hydrogen Action Plan, the RSE Scotland-Germany Hydrogen Research Scheme supports other areas of Scottish Government policy including:

  • Developing strong partnerships with Germany to pursue net-zero transition objectives;
  • Strengthening research collaborations with EU partners post-Brexit;
  • Underpinning and future-proofing Scottish-German partnerships in this area through joint policy, investment and trade opportunities;
  • Supporting the sustainability objectives within the Scottish Governement post-Covid-19 economic strategy


Dr Alberto Di Salvo,  Dr Carlos Fernandez Robert Gordon University together with Professor Stefanie Meilinger and Professor Tanja Clees, Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, University of Applied Sciences and GEA Brewery Systems GmbH.

Project: Green Hydrogen from Brewing Biomass

The brewing industry is a major contributor to both the Scottish and the German economies. This research will inform the generation of a circular economy, where brewing biomass will be employed as feedstock to produce green hydrogen.

Currently, the generation of hydrogen, is associated with energy-intensive production methods. It is essential therefore, to identify a less energy-intensive system that doesn’t absorb a vast portion of the renewable energy produced in Scotland.

Keeping renewable resources in mind, when considering alternatives to water and alcohols in the creation of hydrogen by electrolysis, it makes sense to consider the brewing industry’s spent grains. These grains are rich in polysaccharides, which can be used as feedstock in an electrochemical cell purposely designed to produce hydrogen, which has been shown to reduce the voltage required tenfold in a similar system.

In this project, Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, University of Applied Sciences, will establish the sustainable sourcing and deployment of brewer’s biomass, based on life cycle analysis, and the design of a suitable electrochemical system will be carried out at Robert Gordon University.

Professor John Irvine, University of St Andrews together with Professor Jennifer Rupp, Technical University of Munich (TUM), TUM International Energy

Project: New Structures for Delivery of Sustainable Hydrogen

Solid oxide electrolysis provides a high-efficiency route to the production of green hydrogen from renewable electricity.  An important route to enhance this performance is to develop new thin supported ceramic membranes which offer lower resistance systems.  In this study, we seek to combine the University of St Andrews expertise in developing porous catalytically active substrates based upon exsolution materials with the Technical University of Munich’s (TUM) expertise in thin film coatings (PLD or wet chemical) that can be prepared with minimal heating during processing.

Dr Dragos Neagu, University of Strathclyde together with Professor Daniel Schröder and Dr. Nicolas Schlüter, Technische Universität Braunschweig

Project: Digital Toolbox for Hydrogen Production: Bridging Material Innovations, Electrolyser Architecture and Grid-scale Impact (DiTo-H2)

The recent Scottish Draft Hydrogen Action Plan, highlights that the integration of innovations across the economy will need to occur at an unprecedented pace to enable the required step-change towards net zero. For example, the optimisation of green hydrogen production and associated reduction in costs will be largely dependent on the ability and pace with which new, better materials are integrated into electrolyser technology and how this is then manufactured and scaled to serve its role in the national energy grid.

This project, which brings together specialists from multiple disciplines, aims to develop a modelling framework that maps technological advances at different scales; quantifying how advances at the material level translate to performance gains at electrolyser and energy grid levels. The framework will facilitate rapid decision-making on the value of integrating new technology as it becomes available.

Professor James Njuguna, National Subsea Centre/Robert Gordon University together with Professor Ha-Duong Ngo, University of Applied Sciences Berlin

Project: Fabrication of Hydrogen Sensor for the Hydrogen Gas Leak Detector

Professor James Njuguna’s proposal highlights hydrogen as a next-generation clean energy to replace fossil energy; recognising that the challenge of expansion of hydrogen energy in daily life, is ensuring safety, especially during transport and storage.

Hydrogen gas can spread to air very quickly, and with no colour, taste, or smell, it is crucial to develop a highly sensitive hydrogen detection sensor to ensure safety from hydrogen leaks.

Professor James Njuguna’s project will utilise expertise at Robert Gordon University in hydrogen storage vessels and the University of Applied Sciences Berlin expertise in Microsystems Technologies and Microsensors.