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An excellent Master's thesis

Maximilian Passing receives the Heinz and Joachim Gretz Science Award for his master's thesis.

Hereon employee Maximilian Passing has been awarded the prestigious Heinz and Joachim Gretz Science Prize. On 21 March, the Hydrogen Society Hamburg e. V. judged Passing's thesis to be the best Master's thesis.

How can hydrogen be used in a climate-friendly, cost-effective and, above all, efficient way? Maximilian Passing dealt with this question in his thesis, which was written in cooperation with the Technical University of Hamburg at the Helmholtz Centre Hereon. More precisely, with the use of metal hydrides. These are metal compounds ground into fine powders that can bind hydrogen in astonishing quantities: A metal hydride storage unit can store up to 50 per cent more hydrogen than a 700-bar pressure tank of the same size. A typical metal hydride is magnesium hydride. However, the production of pure magnesium for this purpose is very energy-intensive and involves high costs. Passing has now discovered in his work that magnesium-based waste alloys are also suitable for this purpose. These are a standard industrial waste product and, when recycled, could serve as the source material for the production of magnesium-based metal hydrides. This would make their production cost-neutral and more environmentally friendly.

Michael Fröba (left) presents Julian Jepsen (right) with the certificate on behalf of Maximilian Passing (on screen).

Vlnr: Michael Fröba überreicht Julian Jepsen stellvertretend die Urkunde für Maximilian Passing (live zugeschaltet). Foto: Wasserstoff-Gesellschaft Hamburg

"The Master's thesis considers the entire arc from the starting material to the process chain to the property profile relevant for the application for storage and shows corresponding correlations," said Prof. Michael Fröba, board member of the Hydrogen Society Hamburg e. V. and chairman of the jury.

The master's thesis was published in 2019 at the Hamburg University of Technology at the Institute of Environmental Engineering and Energy Economics under the title "Development and characterization of the first hydrogen storage system based on recycled Mg/Al-based waste alloys". The certificate was accepted on behalf of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Julian Jepsen, co-supervisor of the Master's thesis and head of department at the Institute of Hydrogen Technology, at the award ceremony at the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. "The fundamental but at the same time very application-oriented findings within the scope of the Master's thesis show a high potential with regard to the technical and economic usability of a metal hydride storage system based on magnesium," said Jepsen. The Heinz and Joachim Gretz Science Prize for the best Master's thesis comes with prize money of €2,000.

Maximilian Passing is continuing his research in this field and is working as a doctoral student at the Institute for Hydrogen Technology on hydrogen storage systems based on metal hydrides. "I am very happy about this award and the appreciation of my work. The award further motivates me in my current research field of developing metal hydride-based hydrogen storage systems for mobile applications!"


High-temperature metal hydrides such as magnesium hydride can form the fundamental material of efficient and space-saving thermal energy storage systems, as the reaction with hydrogen can also bind and release heat. Such heat storage systems can be used, for example, for solar thermal power plants in sunny regions that produce excess heat during the day and in turn require heat at night. These power plants can thus take on a base load function in the electricity grid and compensate for the volatile feed-in from wind and photovoltaic plants.

Further Information


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Julian Jepsen Head of Department

Phone: +49 (4152) 87-2602

E-mail contact

Institute of Hydrogen Technology
Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon

Dipl.-Ing. Maximilian Passing PhD student

Phone: +49 (4152) 87-2601

E-mail contact

Institute of Hydrogen Technology
Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon

Martina Grünwald Press Officer

Phone: +49 (4152) 87-1784

E-mail contact

Communication and Media
Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon