HyFaB - Research Factory for Hydrogen Technology and Fuel Cell Technology

The Research Factory for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells (HyFaB) is a pioneering model factory that makes a decisive contribution to the further development and scaling of hydrogen technology and fuel cell technology in Germany.

Located at the Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (ZSW - Center for solar energy and hydrogen research) in Ulm HyFaB combines the know-how of science and industry to advance the industrial production of fuel cells.

Within HyFaB, scientists are developing the necessary processes for the large-scale production of hydrogen-based energy systems. Hydrogen as an energy carrier and the technologies required for it play a decisive role in the decarbonization of the economy and the implementation of the energy transformation in Germany and worldwide.


Dr. Ludwig Jörissen
+49 731 95 30-605
Research Factory for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (HyFaB) at the ZSW in Ulm, Germany

Hydrogen technology: The Climate Neutral Energy Source of the Future

Green hydrogen, produced from wind and solar energy, is emerging as a promising future technology that will play a critical role in the global energy transition and in reducing CO2 emissions.

At its core, hydrogen technology is based on the use of hydrogen as energy carrier and as storage medium, produced by electrolysis of water using renewable electrical energy. In fuel cells, the hydrogen is then combined with oxygen from the air, which in turn generates electrical energy and can be used as an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels.

Pros and Cons of hydrogen fuel cell technology: Hydrogen and fuel cell technology offer many advantages, including high energy density and clean energy conversion. In heavy-duty transportation, for example, fuel cell drivetrains provide emission-free driving, fast refueling, and long ranges comparable to diesel engines. In addition, hydrogen can be used in many other sectors, such as industry and building heating.

However, there are some drawbacks that need to be considered. These include the currently high cost of producing hydrogen and fuel cells, as well as the need to build an infrastructure for hydrogen supply and distribution.

HyFaB as an interface between fuel cell research and industry

The HyFaB research factory aims to accelerate the path to industrial mass production of hydrogen-powered PEM fuel cell technologies. At ZSW, the focus is on scalable and production-ready processes for component manufacturing as well as manufacturing processes for the fuel cell stack.

As a public project, HyFaB offers a platform on which players from the commercial vehicle/automotive and fuel cell supplier industries, as well as companies from the engineering sectors, can work closely together on a long-term basis. Various state and federal ministries will provide up to 30 million euros in funding for this project over the next few years.

Innovative, automated equipment for fuel cell research at HyFaB
ZSW researches investigate the robot-assisted assembly of fuel cell stacks

In addition to the ZSW in Ulm, other well-known hydrogen technology companies are working on the project. Participating are:

The collaboration underlines the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation between research institutions and industrial partners to successfully advance hydrogen research and fuel cell production research.

Purpose and achievements of the HyFaB research factory

Fuel cells are a key technology for the future hydrogen economy. Demand is particularly high in the heavy-duty transportation sector, where there are no competitive decarbonization alternatives. German industry is a world leader in this technology and can expand its lead through rapid and intelligent industrialization.

With the HyFaB factory, the ZSW is establishing an open industrial platform. This forms the basis for the development of:

  • Automated manufacturing and quality assurance processes
  • Factory acceptance tests
  • Commissioning of fuel cell stacks
  • Fuel cell test center
  • Commissioning of fuel cell stacks

With the HyFaB-2 construction phase almost complete and scheduled to go into operation in June 2023, ZSW offers companies a unique fuel cell development platform. This includes offers for joint projects ranging from production and testing to training.

Our HyFaB offer is aimed at large and small companies from the commercial vehicle, automotive and fuel cell supply industries, as well as mechanical and plant engineering, with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

With the model factory we offer orientation for the entry into fuel cell technology and support companies in the development of materials, components and production lines.

HyFaB's services in the field of hydrogen fuel cells include:

  • Technology transfer
  • Production and qualification of fuel cell stacks
  • Qualification of specialists 
  • Generation of industry knowledge

Become part of this project and benefit from the close contact to institutional research with long-standing experience in fuel cell stack manufacturing and a highly interesting industrial network. We are also happy to support you in the application process. Do not hesitate to contact us and shape the future of hydrogen and fuel cell technology together.

Contact HyFaB: HyFaB@zsw-bw.de

HyFaB - New building for the fuel cell test field with gas storage facility
HyFaB - New building for the fuel cell test field with gas storage facility

Fuel cell research at HyFaB

The HyFaB at ZSW in Ulm is a unique model factory worldwide. We offer our partners and industrial customers excellent competencies for fuel cell production research. We have the capabilities to develop process steps for different fuel cell stack designs and manufacturers independently.

For professional research on fuel cell stacks, systems and system components, the ZSW in Ulm has been operating a fuel cell test center since 2001. As part of the HyFaB project, the number of fully automated test stations has been increased to 50, including several in the power class up to 250 kilowatts. In total, more than 100 tons of hydrogen can be processed annually.

In order to further expand the fuel cell research currently, an additional building with 3,000 square meters is being constructed. Construction of the second building phase began on February 23 2022.

The Minister of the Environment of Baden-Württemberg, Thekla Walker, and the Minister of Economics, Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, presented the ZSW with a funding decision in the amount of 7.75 million euros for the construction.

Fuel cell research and development at ZSW focuses on the near-series production of PEM fuel cell stacks, from components to assembly and end-of-line testing.

Fuel Cell Stack Manufacturing and Assembly

The HyFaB research platform provides unique opportunities for fuel cell stack development and is an important resource for established companies, newcomers, and small and medium-sized enterprises. A key element of HyFaB is a manufacturer-independent fuel cell stack that serves as a universal tool for collaborative development projects.

Standardized production methods and automated manufacturing technologies are essential for the industrialization of fuel cell technology:

  1. MEA assembly for fuel cell stacks
  2. Fuel cell stack assembly
  3. Quality assurance and commissioning of fuel cell stacks
Standardized production methods and automated manufacturing technologies for the production of fuel cell stacks at the ZSW in Ulm

The goal is to enable the industrial production of fuel cells. Aspects such as cost and efficiency play a decisive role. Through collaboration between research and companies, innovative solutions can be found and implemented to increase the performance of fuel cell stacks while reducing fuel cell stack costs.

The HyFaB platform enables companies to test and further develop PEM fuel cell technology. The platform provides a solid basis for the implementation of fuel cells in various applications in order to enhance this sustainable technology for a wider use.

Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Projects Germany - Research and Development at ZSW in Ulm

HyFaB is one of the most important hydrogen projects in Germany. The developments of HyFaB contribute significantly to the current state of research in hydrogen and fuel cell technology and indicate the enormous potential of these technologies for a sustainable and climate-friendly future.

CAD representation of the manufacturer-independent fuel cell stack, including compression unit and media connections. Its open-source bipolar plate forms the core of the HyFaB research. Image: ZSW

In addition to the automation of fuel cell manufacturing, fuel cell research and development focuses on the improvement of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEM technology) stacks and single cells.

An exemplary result of HyFaB is a manufacturer-independent fuel cell stack as an open development platform for research and industry. The project, in cooperation with an industrial partner, was funded by the Ministry of the Environment of Baden-Württemberg.

The specifications were developed together with the automotive industry and its suppliers. In terms of power density, the size and design of the stack concept corresponds to the fuel cell systems used in the automotive sector and is designed for 150 kilowatts. Approximately 80 million euro will be invested in the HyFaB project through 2030 to accelerate the start of production and market introduction of fuel cells.

ZSW operates fully automated test benches for fuel cells.

In addition, the ZSW in Ulm operates one of the largest fuel cell test centers in Europe and can therefore comprehensively investigate the main challenges of fuel cell systems, also for trucks, such as durability and overall efficiency.

The Hydrogen Quality Laboratory (HyLaB) analyzes hydrogen for impurities.

Current research topics include the investigation of the quality of hydrogen and air for the commercialization of fuel cells for mobility.

The ZSW's HyLaB (Laboratory for Hydrogen Quality) is another important project in this area.

HyLaB has already proven its competence in numerous projects and is one of the world's leading laboratories in this field.

Collaboration with companies and research partners

Cooperation with companies and research partners plays a decisive role in the success and further development of hydrogen and fuel cell technology. In addition to the ZSW, the Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg and the Fuel Cell Working Group of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Brennstoffzellen) are involved in the HyFaB project.

Fraunhofer ISE is involved as a further research partner. The goal at Fraunhofer ISE is to realize the fabrication of the catalyst-coated membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) with all relevant process technologies on a laboratory scale.

With the " Innovationscluster zur großskaligen Produktion von Brennstoffzellenstacks (Innovation Cluster for the Large-Scale Production of Fuel Cell Stacks the VDMA Fuel Cell Working Group supports the HyFaB project network.

The steering and industry support group publishes and discusses the project results. This serves to identify further issues and to transfer knowledge to the industry.

The ZSW also works closely with industrial partners.

One example is the manufacturer-independent fuel cell stack for research and industry, which was developed together with the company EKPO as part of the HyFaB project funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment.


Close cooperation between research institutions, hydrogen technology companies and fuel cell manufacturers is essential to develop and promote innovative solutions for a sustainable and climate-friendly future.

Fuel Cell Technology from Baden-Württemberg - the HyFaB at the ZSW in Ulm

The HyFaB initiative in Ulm is of great importance for the region and the state of Baden-Württemberg.

It plays a central role in the regional and national context - we advance hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and actively promote cooperation between regional companies and research institutions.

"All major fuel cell companies in Germany have been partners and customers of the ZSW for many years," says Professor Markus Hölzle, ZSW board member.

HyFaB in Ulm benefits from strong support from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economics and the European Union, which together are investing several million euros in the project. This underlines the importance of hydrogen and fuel cell technology for the region and for Germany as a whole.

In addition, the Ulm area is home to numerous companies and research institutions that will benefit from HyFaB and the technologies developed there.

Exchange about hydrogen and fuel cells: Minister President Winfried Kretschmann, ZSW board member Professor Markus Hölzle, Minister President Markus Söder, ZSW board member Professor Michael Powalla (from left to right). Photo: ZSW

The Minister Presidents of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, Winfried Kretschmann and Dr. Markus Söder, have expressed their support for the project and emphasized the importance of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies for the transformation of energy systems. The two states are joining forces to further strengthen their position as a technology location for hydrogen and fuel cells.

HyFaB provides companies with a unique fuel cell development platform that offers joint projects ranging from production to testing and training. This promotes cooperation and the exchange of know-how between regional companies and research institutions and contributes to the strengthening of hydrogen technology companies in the Ulm region, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.

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Funding Note

The project receives "Special hydrogen funding for the HyFaB fuel cell research factory at the ZSW in Ulm" from European Union funds to support crisis management in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic and its social consequences and to prepare for a green, digital and stable recovery of the economy (REACT-EU) via the EFRE program Baden-Württemberg 2014-2020 in the amount of EUR 2,898,000. The grant is in the area of "Infrastructure of Industry-related Research Institutions" and has the reference number EVI_2397400.

Funding will be used to procure equipment and apparatus for production research in order to close gaps in the ZSW's existing equipment to be able to develop all processes for industrial stack production: from imaging analytics to stacking of fuel cell stacks.

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