British trade newspaper asks five questions to CEO Wolfgang Neu
by Silke Thole
H2 View is new publication dedicated to the development and acceleration of the hydrogen economy. In December 2019 the editors asked five questions to our CEO Wolfgang Neu.
Firstly for any readers who may be unfamiliar with Smart Testsolutions, could you tell us a little about the company and how it fits into the vision of a hydrogen economy?
Of course. Smart Testsolutions is a solution provider for test tasks on automotive ECUs, electronic systems and renewable energy systems such as batteries and fuel cells. Customized systems are implemented based on a standard program of optimized system modules for measured value acquisition, load and sensor simulation.
For many years we have been pursuing the vision of a hydrogen economy, especially a hydrogen mobility. Our first system for voltage monitoring of fuel cells and electrolyzers was launched more than 20 years ago. Since then it always has been available – even in times when hydrogen technologies were not on the top of the agenda. We never stoped developing our CVM and high voltage measurement product series. These products fit very well into the hydrogen economy, as they support the commercialization of hydrogen technologies in several areas.
Which area of hydrogen development and deployment is your company currently investing in?
Although we also offer products for electrolysers, our main focus is currently on fuel cell electronics. Here we invest in high end cell voltage monitoring systems which can be used in research and development as well as in series fuel cell vehicles.
Another focus is on measurement and simulation technology for high voltage systems. In this field we benefit from our many years of experience as a developer of test systems and measurement components for the automotive industry.
Have you noticed any trends in the way hydrogen energy is being used in the regions where you operate?
The trend that we see is that OEMs and manufacturers of cars and other vehicles seriously think about replacing diesel vehicles by emission-free fuel cell vehicles. They are working hard to get fuel cell vehicles ready for series production. They have recognized that even in production vehicles continuous monitoring of the cell voltages is essential. These provide information about the condition of the fuel cell stack at all times and are indispensable for the implementation of the operating strategies. For this reason, we have recently expanded our product range in the area of Cell Voltage Monitoring with a robust and cheaper solution for series application.
Another trend we are seeing is that hydrogen production is becoming more of a focus. Also for hydrogen production plants our CVM products are interesting. We cover the entire hydrogen chain with our products. In this respect, we feel very well positioned with regard to the aforementioned trends.
Where do you see potential for greater hydrogen use and integration into existing systems?
One of the great advantages of hydrogen is that it can be stored without any problems. As hydrogen can be produced by using electricity, it can be used as storage technology for volatile renewable energies such as wind or solar energy. At the moment, however, the driver of innovation in hydrogen use is clearly mobility.
What do you think is the biggest missconception around hydrogen right now?
A major misconception, in my view, is that storage of renewables in hydrogen is not efficient and therefore should not be pursued. Hydrogen allows energy to be stored and made available as needed. That’s why hydrogen has a place in the energy supply of our economy. In the vehicle sector, fuel cell vehicles are available wherever large ranges are required.