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Jena researchers seek new type of battery


Center for Energy and Environmental Research being set up at the University of Jena

The Thuringian Minister for Economic Affairs Matthias Machnig announced that Jena would be getting a Fraunhofer center for lithium-ion batteries. The Friedrich-Schiller University (FSU) in Jena has already been following this path for some time. A "Center for Energy and Environmental Chemistry" (CEEC) has been in the process of formation there since October 2010 - in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems (IKTS) in Hermsdorf, which was opened in the autumn last year. The state is supporting this project to the tune of 2 mio euros annually for an initial 3 years.

"Lithium-ion batteries require cobalt and rare earths. These are however to be found exclusively in China. In addition, these batteries become hazardous waste. We however are looking for alternatives, for batteries that are recyclable. To this end, we are researching in Jena with polymers and in Hermsdorf with inorganic compounds such as ceramics. That is our unique selling point", says Prof Ulrich Schubert. He holds the chair of organic and macromolecular chemistry at the FSU and is a materials scientist.

The concrete aim is to develop environmentally friendly, intelligent high-temperature batteries, which also have high storage capacities, and are low-risk, climate-friendly and sustainable. Because up to now a reliable supply of regenerative energy has not been guaranteed, despite becoming ever more necessary after the abandonment of nuclear power. Wind power and solar energy are not continuously available, but are subject to significant seasonal and even daily fluctuation.

Some partners are already on board such as Varta and the Federal Ministry of Research (BMF) and professorships have already been advertised. Some of these posts have already been filled, it will be 15 by April this year. Carl Zeiss AG is also participating in the CEEC with a junior professorship. On top of this are staff from the Fraunhofer IKTS Hermsdorf.

These new research groups form the nucleus of the new research center which is to be based in Jena.

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