Electrochemical Energy Converters and Storage Devices

Research Topics

  • Catalysts and gas diffusion electrodes for fuel cells
  • Materials development and characterization, surface functionalization
  • Redox-flow batteries
  • Bifunctional catalyst for metal/air energy storage systems
  • Intercalation materials for Al-Ion battery
  • Test of ionic liquids as substitution for established electrolytes

Globally, the demand for energy has increased dramatically. At the same time fossil fuel reserves are limited and power generation from nuclear fission is controversially discussed. Therefore a radical change in the energy mix is expected in the very near future. One of the most important goals of the German government focuses on the expansion of renewable energies up to 60% of the gross final energy consumption and 80% of the gross electricity consumption by 2050. In order to better regulate seasonal- and weather-dependent energy production, novel energy storage plants are required. One promising strategy is based on the development of peripheral electrochemical energy storage and conversion plants such as electrolysis and fuel cells for hydrogen production and combustion, double-layer supercaps, as well as redox-flow, lithium-ion and zinc/air batteries.

Currently, fuel cell activities at DFI are related to development of a low pressure Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) cathode and of protective layers to inhibit negative effects due to chromium evaporation in Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) interconnectors. In KEStro project, combination of a Bio Fuel Cell using waste water as energy supply and an electrochemical process for removing trace elements is under investigation.

According to recent studies, redox-flow battery appears to be an ideal candidate as energy storage system for stationary applications. Within TubulAir project, two innovative concepts related to replacement of V4+/V5+ redox couple by an air diffusion electrode and of planar by tubular electrode geometry.

Because of their low vapour pressure and high electrochemical stability, some Ionic Liquids (ILs) are promising electrolyte for metal/air and metal-ion battery applications. In Metal/Air Battery most important challenge is related to find aprotic/protic ILs that catalyse both oxygen reduction/evolution and metal dissolution/deposition. For oxygen reaction, protic electrolytes such as DEMA-TfO should be more efficient compared to aprotic ones. Reversibility of Al and Zn will be investigated in AlSiBat and LuZi project, respectively. Since Lithium-Ion technology is not safe enough and raw material resources are limited, search for post-lithium technology has been intensified. An European joint project aims at the development of an Al-ion battery. DFI contribution focuses principally on synthesis of intercalation materials and their electrochemical characterization is ILs.

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