„Energy Storage and Con­version Re­search at Science City Ulm“


Special publication on Energy Storage and Conversion Research at Science City Ulm

The ongoing energy revolution, ranging from mobility to grid stabilization and home storage, has come to reality thanks to many scientific and technological breakthroughs in the field of batteries and fuel cells. For instance, Lithium-ion batteries are now the electrochemical energy storage of choice for hybrid electric and fully electric vehicles. It is therefore no surprise that the three inventors of such disruptive battery technology have been rewarded with the Nobel Prize 2019 in chemistry. Interestingly, Prof. M. Stanley Whittingham, one of the three 2019 Chemistry Laureates, received the call from Stockholm after his plenary talk at the 12th Advanced Batteries for Automotive Applications (ABAA-12) conference organized in Ulm, Germany, by ZSW and HIU.

The city of Ulm, besides being the birthplace of Albert Einstein and having the world’s highest church steeple, has become through the years an excellence center for energy storage and conversion related science. Several highly ranked institutes are working on this exciting field, spacing from fundamental to applied and industry-oriented research.

Everything started in 1967, with the foundation of Ulm University. First planned as support for the medical education, natural sciences became mature enough to form an independent faculty that steadily grew to its present strength. While in the 1970s and 80s electrochemistry was considered an almost fully explored field where not much could be learned anymore, it was the vision of Ulm University to keep a strong activity in this area. Being one of the last centers for electrochemical research in Germany, the internationally renowned Institute of Electrochemistry at Ulm University significantly contributed to the connection of surface science with electrochemistry. Based on this so-called electrochemical surface science many new techniques were developed that for the first time allowed studying electrochemical systems and processes even on an atomistic scale. Due to these detailed insights electrochemistry underwent a real renaissance, turning out to still bear many fascinating and exciting secrets.

Afterwards, in 1988, the ZSW (Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg) was established as a non-profit foundation with a clear vision on the future. ZSW mainly focuses on research and development of technologies for sustainable and climate-friendly generation of heat and fuel, as well as, production and storage of electricity. Furthermore, ZSW aims at transferring of R&D results to market-relevant products (technology transfer), and consulting political decision-makers and professional associations. Today, ZSW is one of the leading energy research institutes in Europe.

The role of Ulm as excellence center for energy-related science was further strengthened in 2011, with the foundation of the HIU, Helmholtz Institute Ulm for Electrochemical Energy Storage. Born from the cooperation between Ulm University and KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), with ZSW and DLR (German Aerospace Center) as associate partners, HIU charges itself with the task of pursuing application-driven fundamental questions in electrochemical energy storage. The primary aim of HIU is to develop sustainable, next-generation battery technologies. Unlike any other research institute in Germany, HIU combines the complementary expertise of the four founding organizations under one roof, bringing together virtually all areas of battery research in one institution. These joint efforts recently resulted in the establishment of the research platform CELEST (Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage Ulm & Karlsruhe), which embeds the POLiS (Post Lithium Storage) Cluster of Excellence.

This collection of papers aims at highlighting some of the latest advances achieved by the large community of scientists working on energy conversion and storage at Science City Ulm.

Guest Editors: Birger Horstmann, Timo Jacob, Mario Marinaro, Stefano Passerini, Alberto Varzi

Energy Storage and Conversion Research at Science City Ulm

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