The mobility of the future must be sustainable, reliable, and sparing in the use of resources. Solutions are urgently needed for all areas of mobility. Road passenger transport is responsible for a significant proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, with road freight transport, air travel, international maritime shipping and non-electrified rail transport numbered among the other causes. A raft of measures is required because individual measures alone are not enough. Measures which will need to be in the mix include an electrification and efficiency strategy for the engines of the future, the development and use of alternative climate-neutral fuels for transport sectors which will still be dependent on liquid hydrocarbons in the future, and the development of appropriate infrastructures. There will be a demand for a nationwide charging infrastructure alongside transport and refuelling systems for hydrogen. This calls for the imagination to innovate and the courage to adopt sustainable strategies. The ZSW is the go-to organisation when it comes to talking about emission-free mobility with electric vehicles driven by battery power and fuel cells and when it comes to discussing alternative fuels.
The System Analysis department picks up on these technical developments and develops concepts for nationwide, system-relevant use. Among other activities, with the aim of creating incentives for the development of specific technologies, the department reflects technical development paths against economic restrictions. In various projects, such as komDRIVE, ZSW has studied at an early stage the current and future cost potential of traction batteries. Based on sensitivity analysis and taking different business models into consideration, the department produces forecasts for the future and compares different concept approaches as well as evaluating them on the basis of the Total Cost of Ownership principle. Among its aims is the deduction of recommendations for action for industry and politics to strengthen Germany and Baden-Wuerttemberg as present and future business locations.
The Power-to-Gas Baden-Württemberg’ flagship project developed business models for the renewable provision of e-fuels (eH2, eCH4, ePtL). A promising concept, not just for individual personal transportation but also for transport services that will require further electricity sources in addition to batteries. The latter include, for instance, long-distance mobility as well as freight, rail, air and shipping.
Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) receive all the energy they need for propulsion from batteries. Accordingly, the central issue in the development of advanced cells is the highest energy density possible. This is also associated with a large number of issues relating to the safety of the cells, their cold-start properties, fast-charging capability and the reduction of material and manufacturing costs.
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) combine an electric drive with an internal combustion engine and encompass a wide range of typologies, from micro and mild hybrids to full and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and so-called range extenders. In this order, the capacity of the batteries used for the hybrid drive also increases. In general, accumulators for hybrid drives must have a very high cycle stability and a high power density. While high-performance lead-acid starter batteries are still used for micro-hybrids and Toyota uses alkaline nickel-metal hydride cells for its full hybrids, high-performance lithium-ion cells are the technology of choice for all other applications - and will remain so in the future. In addition, there is a strong trend to convert starter batteries to lithium-ion technology in the future.
Whether materials, components, production and process research, post-mortem analyses, recycling concepts, or functional and safety tests, as well as many aspects of battery system technology - all these topics are part of the ZSW's range of services. Read more about our research under Batteries.
To charge battery electric vehicles, the corresponding infrastructure is needed, which is supplied via the power grid. To stabilize the grids, the charging stations must communicate electronically with the grid operators' systems to avoid possible load peaks. Such and similar issues are addressed at ZSW in the Smart Grid topic area.
In the case of a fuel cell drive, the electricity for an electric motor is generated using a fuel cell powered by hydrogen stored in a high pressure tank. The high energy content of hydrogen and the simple refuelling process (compressed gas) give fuel cell vehicles a long range (400–700 km). Refuelling only takes a few minutes, similar to conventional petrol vehicles. This makes fuel cells suitable for use in all existing types of vehicle, from saloon cars and city buses right through to rail vehicles.
ZSW offers a comprehensive spectrum of expertise in all aspects of fuel cell research – from new materials and optimised components (electrodes, bipolar plates etc.) right through to production technology for cells and stacks. The range of services offered is rounded off by one of the largest test fields worldwide for fuel cell stacks up to 120 kWel, and many issues relating to fuel cell system technology, and hydrogen quality.
Read more about our Fuel Cell activities.