Optimizing Water Electrolysis: Recent Advancements on Materials and Process Designs

November 02, 2017

The team Energy Conversion Systems in the Department Process Systems Engineering at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems in Magdeburg is aiming at a better understanding of how to make use of renewable energy for chemicals production and transportation.

They investigate the dynamics of water electrolysis processes and try to elucidate the underlying reaction and transport processes at different time and length scales. Thereby, they are part of the Max Planck Research Network MAXNET Energy. MAXNET Energy brings together key competencies from eight Max Planck Institutes and two international partners, the Cardiff Catalyst Institute in Great Britain as well as the University of Virginia in the United States of America.

Around thirty scientists exchanged the state of their research within the 3rd MAXNET Energy Workshop at the Max Planck Institute Magdeburg on October 26 – 27, 2017 under the title "AEM and PEM water electrolysis; recent advancements on materials and design".

The scientists are contributing their specialized know-how to make water electrolysis more efficient as a central component of sustainable energy supply. A few start-ups, but also large corporations, are already working with power-to-gas systems. These systems generate hydrogen during the process of electrolysis using energy from renewable sources. The benefit: in this form, energy – in contrast to green electricity – can be stored and used when needed. However, if renewable energy is to become our sole source there are still many problems to be solved. Expensive precious metals cannot be used in large scale and losses upon conversion of electricity and hydrogen have to be minimized. And the first step towards progress is to understand the underlying processes at the atomistic level.

During the workshop the scientists discussed their recent results on novel materials, investigations on elementary reaction steps as well as the performance of system components under reaction conditions.

Renowned guest speakers have been Prof. Bouzek, Department Anorganic Technology at the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, and Prof. Dr. Richard Hanke-Rauschenbach, Professor for Electric Energy Storage Systems at the Institute of Electric Power Systems at the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University Hannover, who reported on their progress in research on water electrolysis.

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