Aims & Strategies
Because it is not always available for immediate use, energy from renewable resources such as the wind and sun needs to be stored. Similarly, electric cars need intermediate storage of the electrical energy required for driving. Offering an efficient solution to this problem are batteries that temporarily store and release electrical energy with very little energy loss.
The term “Battery” describes a container holding a series or parallel connection of cells in which chemicals are stored and react to release energy. Along with its components, anodes, cathodes, separators and electrolytes, the optimal placement of the elements in a battery plays an important role in its performance. Its capacity to store energy also changes depending on the combination of materials used, e.g. the use of fluids, solids or gels affects the overall construction. To develop an ideal solution, a series of highly complex factors need to be researched, optimized and taken into account.
The Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) charges itself with the task of pursuing fundamental questions in electrochemical energy storage as a platform for creating vital new material and cell concepts. The primary aim of the HIU is to develop sustainable, next-generation battery technologies, in full, to develop electrochemical energy storage with more capacity and greater efficiency that is at the same time lighter, longer lasting, safer and cheaper than conventional technologies. Such batteries are an answer to the urgent need for better energy storage in portable electronics and electric cars. Furthermore, they contribute to solving our problem of reduced access to renewable energy sources.
To reach these aims, the HIU combines the efforts of four directing research organisations under one roof. Unlike any other research institute in Germany, it brings together virtually all areas of battery research in one organization.
The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) leads in the development of fundamental and new storage concepts and the synthesis and investigation of underlying storage materials and electrolytes. It has outstanding expertise and uses cutting-edge methods for structural, chemical and electrochemical characterization of materials and cells as well as for conducing higher-level systems analysis.
The primary focus of the research groups at the University of Ulm is on fundamental electrochemical research and modeling of elementary processes on electrode surfaces and in inner materials.
For decades the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) has successfully worked on application-oriented battery materials, developing new cells and testing the everyday suitability of batteries in cooperation with industry.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has a high level of expertise in the development of new storage materials, the development and use of large-scale mathematical modelling and simulation of whole battery cells, and in systems development. As a result of the work of its four partners, the HIU combines excellent fundamental research with applications. At the same time, it also expands the opportunities for highly-qualified young scientists, preparing them to contribute to this strategically important field of research.