A carbon-neutral economy will be based on renewable energies, and rely on advanced concepts for short-, medium- and long-term energy storage and an intelligent system for the distribution and trading of renewable energy on a global scale. The transition to carbon-neutrality requires substantial advances in research and technology development in the field of chemical energy storage and carriers across the entire innovation chain. The development of safe, low-cost next-generation batteries (beyond lithium-ion) featuring high energy densities will be essential for the integration of short-term energy storage in the power sector and pivotal for transforming the mobility sector. The sustainable mass production of green hydrogen and synthetic chemical energy carriers will be key for the implementation of large-scale long-term energy storage in the power sector, establishing a transport and trading system for renewable energy and decarbonizing the industrial sector. The development of catalytic processes and light-driven fuel generators featuring novel catalysts and electrocatalysts and their transfer from the lab to the industrial scale will be major drivers for this process.
The activities in the chemical energy division are focused on three main research topics, (1) (electro)chemical energy conversion and storage (2) solar fuels and (3) thin film catalysis. We develop new materials for these applications and aim to develop a mechanistic, molecular-level understanding of photon and electron driven charge transfer processes at solid/solid, solid/liquid, and solid/gas interfaces under actual working conditions. In parallel, we develop working devices and demonstrators to identify and tackle the key challenges involved in transforming our energy conversion and storage concepts into technological solutions.