ionysis GmbH – spin-off bringing hydrogen fuel cells to market maturity for heavy-duty commercial vehicles

A team from the “Electrochemical Energy Systems” research area at the Laboratory for MEMS Applications and Hahn-Schickard in Freiburg has just founded “ionysis GmbH” to develop more efficient membrane electrode units for fuel cells toward market maturity with the help of strong partners.



Source: ionysis GmbH

In order to achieve set climate targets, sustainable mobility must also become a reality for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. “ionysis GmbH”, which was newly founded on September 1, develops highly efficient, emission-free and sustainable core components for fuel cells. This includes significantly reducing the content of perfluorinated compounds in what are known as “membrane electrode units,” a questionable component that is increasingly being outlawed worldwide due to its harming effects on the environment. “Together with international partners, we were able to operate these environmentally friendly fuel cells for the first time that are on par with conventional ones while demonstrating their operational efficiency and ability to perform and at higher temperatures in the future,” explains Dr. Matthias Breitwieser, Managing Director and CTO of ionysis GmbH. “This fact makes them particularly suitable for heavy commercial vehicles or use in aviation.” 

The aim is to further develop the novel, more environmentally friendly membrane electrode units while also demonstrating their technical feasibility and ability to scale. The company is thereby complementing the “green tech” start-up community in Freiburg with another start-up in the field of hydrogen and decarbonization technology.

“ionysis is our eighth spin-off company at the Freiburg site, demonstrating that we are not only innovative in the field of life sciences, but also in the area of energy and sustainability issues,” says Prof. Dr. Roland Zengerle, Head of Laboratory for MEMS Applications at IMTEK and Institute Director at Hahn-Schickard in Freiburg. These spin-offs have now created around 335 high-tech jobs in Freiburg.

On September 1, 2022, ionysis commenced operations with a total team of eight people and plans to expand within the next few months. In addition to active or former employees of Hahn-Schickard and the University of Freiburg, Dr. Matthias Breitwieser (Managing Director, Science and Strategy), Dr. Florian Lombeck (Chief Scientist) and Dr. Severin Vierrath will be joined by other new employees and experienced Hahn-Schickard employees who are already joining the company at the start.

Two strong investors have now been secured for the spin-off, who not only provide financial support with several million euros, but also offer valuable access to industry know-how and business development advice.

The foundation for the spin-off was laid within the framework of several publicly funded research projects: Both the state of Baden-Württemberg (“DirectMEA”) and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (“DirectStack,” FKZ: 03ETB024D) provided financial support for these efforts. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research provided funding tailored to the German-Canadian exchange within the framework of the projects “FlexCoat” (FKZ: 01DM19008A) and FC-CAT (FKZ: 03SF0579B), which particularly supported the intensive technical collaboration with the “hydrogen hub” Vancouver.

Persons in the picture from left to right: Lisa Langer (Founder, CFO), Dr. Florian Lombeck (Founder, Head of Production), Dr. Andreas Büchler (Founder, COO), Dilara Sultanova (Junior Process Engineer), Claudia Schwarz (Development Engineer), Farmal Khan (Junior Process Engineer), Dr. Matthias Breitwieser (Founder, CTO), Dr. Severin Vierrath (Founder, Scientific Advisor).


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