Magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) is the research area focusing on the dynamics of electrically conducting liquids under the influence of electromagnetic fields. The research activities at HZDR cover a wide range from fundamental to applied research comprising activities in the fields of high-temperature energy conversion systems, new kinds of liquid metal batteries, the production of solar-grade silicon, CO2 free production of hydrogen, liquid metal targets in modern neutron or particle sources and transmutation systems, casting and solidification of steel and light metals, welding and soldering processes, to basic laboratory experiments with relevance to liquid metal cooled systems, materials processing as well as to geo- and astrophysics. The knowledge and experiences arising from the fundamental research activities provide a solid basis for the development of innovative MHD technologies in the branches metallurgy, casting, crystal growth and electrochemistry. The availability of appropriate measurement techniques is a necessity for any experimental work on liquid metal technologies and therefore a fundamental prerequisite for our research program. During the last two decades, considerable effort was spent at HZDR on the development and qualification of techniques to measure the flow in metallic melts. Especially, significant progress has been achieved in the field of non-invasive measuring techniques such as inductive and ultrasonic methods or the X-ray radioscopy.
The Helmholtz Alliance LIMTECH bundles the R&D activities on Liquid Metal Technologies as they had grown over the past decade mainly at the Helmholtz centers HZDR and KIT. In the same period of time, related activities at universities experienced a strong development, in particular in Dresden, Freiberg, Ilmenau and Hannover. The basic idea of LIMTECH consists in a joint research program among those partners, addressing break-through technological goals by bringing together for the first time all relevant Helmholtz and university institutions.
Most of the MHD research activities at HZDR belong to the programs of Renewable Energies and Efficient Energy Conversion in frame of the research field Energy of the Helmholtz Association. In addition there are attractive links also to the research fields Earth and Environment, Structure of Matter and Key Technologies. Research concerns the goal to increase energy and resource efficiency in metal refining, casting and solidification as well as the photovoltaic silicon production. The use of liquid metals as heat carriers allows running and exploiting energy conversion processes at higher temperature levels, thus increasing their efficiency. Of course, such liquid metal systems must be operated in a safe and fully controlled way. This is possible today since recently developed measurement techniques at HZDR have been proven to enable a complete monitoring of those systems. Liquid Metal Batteries are a very promising concept for economic storage of energy. With the growing role of solar and wind power in the German energy production, large scale storage becomes a key point for a functional power grid.