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Institute of Energy and Climate Research

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The Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK-3: Electrochemical Process Engineering) focuses on research and development in the field of electrolyzers, fuel cells and chemical reactors. Work is currently pursued in four areas: low-temperature water electrolysis, reversible solid oxide cells (rSOCs), auxiliary power units (APUs) with reforming of liquid energy carriers that could be used to provide hydrogen in fuel cells, and fuel synthesis. Focusing intensively on a few energy conversion ways and a restricted power range of selected applications makes it possible to work on converter systems with teams of supercritical size beginning with the electrochemical cells and ranging up to process engineering for the whole system.

Research and Development Emphases

The institute’s objectives and focal points are unlocking the synergies between the specialized disciplines and putting theory into practice in order to reach a pilot stage. Stationary, portable and mobile applications with fuel cell systems, up to and including complete energy chains particularly with hydrogen as energy vector, are evaluated by process and systems analysis in terms of their usability. They are also compared to competing systems from a technical, energetic and economic perspective. Furthermore, application-oriented R&D activities are accompanied by basic research aiming to clarify structure-activity relationships using selected advanced analysis methods developed further to suit the applications.

With a view to meeting the challenges involved in a sustainable energy supply, IEK-3 has started to establish two additional research and development initiatives. As long ago as 2004, work began on evaluating commercial-scale processes for gas separation with respect to process engineering and energy technology. In future, this work will be complemented by experiments to verify the sensitive process steps. Since 2010, IEK-3 has given consideration to the indisputable need for energy storage systems by including R&D work on batteries.