Restructuring the energy supply to accommodate the provision of energy from intermittent renewable sources depends on the availability of reliable and affordable options for energy storage. Both stationary and mobile applications require large, flexible storage capacities. Considerable research and development efforts are necessary to make safe, cost-effective electrochemical and chemical storage options ready for the market. HITEC examines questions that range from the fundamental materials science and electrochemical principles of batteries and electrolysers to the operating performance of battery systems, and deals with issues concerning the fabrication of materials right up to their integration into the energy system as a whole.
Research at IEK-1 focuses on the provision of new, improved types of solid-state batteries for stationary and mobile applications with robust long-term stability during stochastic charging and discharging processes. Activities in the field of materials science currently focus on metallic anode materials and ceramic electrolyte and cathode materials, i.e. on oxide ceramics with defined electron and ion conductivity. Diverse imaging and physical techniques are available for the characterization of materials and components. The knowledge chain is completed by collaborating with other institutes in order to implement electrochemical methods for measuring cells, modules, and hybrid systems under laboratory and application-relevant conditions as well as in real operation.
One of the major priorities at IEK-9 is developing metal-air batteries and metal-metal oxide batteries. Solid-state batteries using ceramic ion conductors as electrolytes promise very high power densities. The role played by electrochemistry is to investigate and characterize appropriate electrodes for the oxidation and reduction processes in these new electrolytes when the battery charges and discharges, as well as to design the electrolyte/electrode interface in such a way that the oxidation and reduction reactions occurring alternately at the interfaces during charging and discharging are constantly reversible. As regards high-temperature electrolysis for the production of hydrogen as a gaseous storage medium, attention is focused on the development of ceramic materials for air electrodes.
The section IEK-STE investigates and develops strategies for transforming energy systems, giving due consideration to the relationships between technical, economic, ecological, and social aspects. One of its main research areas is the grid integration of electric vehicles into existing and future energy supply structures.