Electrocatalysts for fuel cells and next-generation electrolyzers are a focus in the area of converters. The main emphasis is on the development of alkaline direct-alcohol fuel cells, for example palladium non-noble metal alloy catalysts for alcohol oxidation or ionomers with high stability in alkaline alcohol solutions. We are developing anode catalysts for mediumtemperature fuel cells that have a high tolerance for impurities (especially sulfurous compounds), for operation with logistic fuels available for military use. We also have a high level of competence in the online analysis of electrochemical processes, which can also be applied to investigate degradation processes in vehicle PEMFCs. A further competence is the design of systems for use in unusual environments, for example under water.
One way to use electric energy efficiently is the generation of chemical products. We are working on the development of electrochemical reactors, including electrocatalysts and electrodes, their integration into a complete process, and coupling to subsequent process steps. A current example is the electrochemical extraction of hydrogen peroxide by the partial reduction of atmospheric oxygen, combined with use in a selective oxidation.
Thermal storage devices based on phase-change materials (PCMs) or zeolites are developed and characterized. This involves basic physical and chemical characterization, including the modeling and characterization of adsorption and desorption phenomena using thermoanalytical methods. The design, construction and testing of sorption storage and sorption cooling systems, heat reservoirs based on phase-change materials, and hybrid components combining thermal mass and insulation, are strongly market-oriented and complement our fundamental research activities.
In the field of chemical storage, Fraunhofer ICT is concerned with hydrogen as an energetic material and platform chemical. A particular area of expertise is safety assessment and the design of systems, pilot plants and processes. Important research areas are the handling and especially the storage and transport of hydrogen, the development and performance of specific safety tests and the evaluation, concept and design of hydrogen storage systems. The equipment available at our Application Center for Stationary Energy Storage Devices enables the characterization and development of a wide spectrum of materials, through to the behavior of a storage device in an electric grid with renewable energy sources.