Research Highlights 2018
Highlight 1: Excellent Battery Research in the HELMHOLTZ Association
Together with the University of Ulm, KIT was successful in the federal and state excellence strategy with a cluster on "Energy storage beyond lithium". In this cluster, scientific and technological foundations are being developed to develop sustainable electrochemical energy storage systems that are superior to lithium-ion technology for certain applications. Topic 1 "Electrochemical energy storage" works closely with this cluster. The Helmholtz Network of Excellence "post-Lithium Batteries (pLB)" was established to investigate cell concepts complementary to those of the cluster. These are, for example, potassium ion batteries or hybrid batteries in which more than one type of ion is mobile in the electrolyte. Due to kinetic barriers, different ions can become effective on both electrode sides. For the sustainability of batteries, the reduction or even complete renunciation of critical raw materials is particularly important. Here, alternative cell concepts open up new possibilities, in particular to reduce dependence on cobalt. With the founding of the Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage Ulm & Karlsruhe (CELEST), the largest joint platform in Europe was created to address all aspects along the value chain.
Highlight 2: Coupling of Solar Energy and High Temperature Electrolysis
At DLR, the world's first successful coupling of a commercial high-temperature electrolysis stack with solar thermal steam generation was achieved. With the help of high-performance radiators from a solar mullator and a solar steam generator, superheated steam was fed to a high-temperature steam electrolyser at 770°C and H2 produced with an efficiency of 93%. The entire system of the prototype plant will be further optimized in the future. The aim of the development is the integration of external heat, such as solar heat, for the production of hydrogen for energy storage and, in a next development stage, the production of synthesis gas via co-electrolysis of H2 and CO2 for synthetic fuels.
Highlight 3:Decentralised production of renewable, liquid energy sources (Power-to-Fuel)
With decentralised and highly efficient plants, liquid synthetic energy sources can be produced locally from CO2 or biomass-based synthesis gas together with hydrogen from electrolysis. In EnergyLab 2.0, a container-based system for the production of liquid fuels was integrated in 2018 as a building block for an intelligent energy system in order to investigate the sector coupling of power-to-fuel in detail. The entire path from renewable energies (power) via PEM electrolysis and synthesis gas production from CO2 to liquid fuel is thus made possible with a production capacity of 200L per day. The container contains a reverse water gas conversion stage for the production of synthesis gas and a modular and compact Fischer-Tropsch reactor (5-10 kg/h), so that the entire process chain can dynamically follow electricity production. The KIT spin-off INERATTEC GmbH was awarded first place in the German Founder's Prize and first place in the Lothar Spät Award 2018 for its innovative chemical reactor technology, which makes it possible to produce liquid energy carriers on a decentralized scale.