Ulm University's 49th anniversary was quite the celebration, including eight doctoral awards, three inaugural addresses and a keynote speech delivered by a renowned alumnus.
At his first anniversary celebration as president, Professor Michael Weber reviewed the accomplishments from the previous months and spoke about the upcoming anniversary year 2017. Minister President Winfried Kretschmann will be in attendance at the official opening of the anniversary celebration on the founding day in late February.
"Ulm University has an established position as a successful research university at both a national and international level. We have been successful in combining strong basic research with application-oriented science, making us attractive to both researchers and students", University President Weber related. According to Weber, the foundation for this success lies in part in the high interdisciplinary potential that a small university, with its specific and focussed range of subjects, has to offer.
Ulm University is currently focusing on preparations for the "Strategy for Excellence".
Keynote speaker Dr Wolfgang Büchele, president of the board at the Linde Group, showed his admiration for his alma mater and its development. Originally from Geislingen, Büchele studied chemistry at Ulm University in the 1980s and achieved his PhD in 1987 in the field of inorganic chemistry. On account of the official opening of the hydrogen fuelling station at the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW), which took place on the same day, Büchele focused his lecture on the topic of using hydrogen as a fuel. This environmentally friendly technology has struggled for a long time with a "chicken and egg" problem: "The nearly non-existent fuelling infrastructure has dissuaded automobile manufacturers from investing much in developing hydrogen-powered vehicles for a long time. On the other hand, it doesn't make sense economically to build fuelling stations if there aren't any customers", Büchele explained. The president of the board at the globally active gas and facility construction company presented the necessary requirements for a total market functionality.
According to Büchele, local emission-free hydrogen power is suited for longer routes and heavy vehicles, as opposed to battery power. So far, the relatively high price has posed a disadvantage.
One important factor is sustainable production of hydrogen - for instance with the help of renewable energies or excess energy. And of course, as Büchele pointed out, a sufficiently dense network of fuelling stations is absolutely essential. This is where the Linde Group is making a significant contribution: it has managed to cut the building size and costs of hydrogen fuelling stations in half within five years. In July, the company will also be starting a hydrogen-based car sharing system in Munich with an initial 50 vehicles.
Büchele's conclusion: "We are on the right path for advancing hydrogen-powered mobility along with battery-powered mobility".