Electrochemical energy conversion and storage

The key research area of energy conversion and storage is of great social relevance. Ulm University’s many years of expertise in electrochemical basic research has been taken a step further and extended by the foundation of the Helmholtz Institute Ulm for electrochemical energy storage (HIU). HIU encompasses some 90 employees, who are to conduct research into batteries in the fields of electrochemistry, materials, theory and systems by adopting a holistic approach. In fact, several heads of institutes at Ulm University simultaneously lead working groups at HIU. HIU was established at the beginning of 2011 as a branch of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). The German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) are associated partners. Being a Helmholtz institution, HIU is funded mainly by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the federal state.

The topics addressed range from improving conventional lithium-ion batteries to developing novel battery concepts on the basis of new materials. These electrochemical activities undertaken in Ulm are supported by the DFG research group FOR 1376 “Elementary Steps in Electrocatalysis: Theory meets Experiment”, which concerns itself with the elementary steps in important electrocatalytic processes such as hydrogen formation and oxygen reduction. In the area of electrochemical energy conversion and storage, cooperative activities are also conducted with the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) in Ulm, whose Managing Director simultaneously has a professorship at the Faculty of Natural Sciences. The research activities conducted in this field also involve cooperating with Daimler Research Centre. In addition, scientists are engaged in activities in the area of electrochemical basic research into energy-relevant materials, involving molecular photoelectrocatalysis, porous materials for electrodes and organic photovoltaics. Prof Dr Timo Jacob, Head of the Institute of Electrochemistry, was awarded an ERC Starting Grant for his work back in 2010 (THEOFUN – Theoretical studies on the functionalisation of metal surfaces with organic and biological complexes under electrochemical conditions). Outside the natural sciences, the key area is supported by institutes from the Faculty of Engineering, Computer Science and Psychology, the Faculty of Mathematics and Economics, and the central facility Electron Microscopy. Consequently, expertise from the fields of chemistry, physics, materials, mathematics, economics, electrical engineering, computer science and theory is interlinked within the key research area.