“It was impressive to see the enthusiasm of the researchers in Ulm. Ulm is one of the most important locations for battery research in Germany. Under the roof of the ‘Battery Research Factory,’ we will continue to pool Germany-wide competences and to accelerate transfer of findings to industry. Ulm has vast expertise in e.g. production research or future battery concepts. We will continue to support this work in future,” said Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek during her visit.
On the campus in Ulm, Ulm University, ZSW, and Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) work on the entire development chain in battery research. Federal Minister Anja Karliczek started her visit at ZSW. Its activities are based on 30 years of expertise in applied battery and fuel cell research and bridge the gap to practice. The ZSW possesses comprehensive research and development competences from the material to the cell, from laboratory to pilot production of automobile-suited lithium-ion cells, and from systems technology to the battery function and safety test center. The Director of the ZSW Electrochemical Energy Technologies Division, Dr. Margret Wohlfahrt-Mehrens, presented their main activities and guided the Minister through the laboratory for battery technology and the research platform for industrial production of large lithium-ion cells (FPL). The platform has been in operation for five years already and represents Europe’s only facility of this kind for close-to-series research into the manufacture of large-scale battery cells.“ Ulm offers an excellent research environment for batteries – from electrochemical fundamentals to prototype production,” Wohlfahrt-Mehrens said. “Now, the research production line and the know-how gained at Ulm have to be extended to ensure quick transfer of results to industry.”
Then, Anja Karliczek visited the Helmholtz Institute Ulm, where the basis for mobile and stationary use of energy storage systems is studied. In 2011, KIT as a member of the Helmholtz Association and Ulm University established the Institute. Associated partners are the ZSW and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). To foster strategic collaboration in battery research, the Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage Ulm & Karlsruhe (CELEST), the largest German platform for electrochemical energy research was established in 2018. In CELEST, KIT, Ulm University, and ZSW pool their competences in all areas relevant to electrochemical energy storage, namely, “lithium-ion technology,” “energy storage beyond lithium,” and “alternative electrochemical energy storage technologies.” “CELEST is one of the biggest and most active research and development platforms worldwide. It offers unique opportunities for researchers, excellent education for students, battery cell development, and efficient know-how and technology transfer to industry,” said CELEST Director Professor Maximilian Fichtner.
The first big success of the platform was the acquisition of the cluster “Post Lithium Storage” (POLiS) in the highly competitive excellence strategy. The only cluster of excellence in the area of battery research in Germany will be funded with about EUR 50 million for initially seven years. At Ulm and Karlsruhe, the cluster members study high-performance and sustainable battery technologies based on materials other than scarce lithium and cobalt.
The President of Ulm University, Professor Michael Weber, welcomed the Research Minister and emphasized: “At Ulm, battery research is strong by tradition. In the past years, a unique research environment has developed around the university. Internationally leading researchers pool their expertise relating to batteries across institutions in the CELEST research platform. Now and in future, major impulses for the development of high-performance batteries for electric mobility and the energy transition come from and will come from Ulm,” Weber said.