Energy > Storage and Linked Infrastructures - All Topics
Germany is on the brink of the energy turnaround and, thus, the transformation of power generation from primarily fossil and nuclear sources to solely renewable energy sources in the future. Since the power being fed from photovoltaic systems and wind turbines actually depends on the environmental conditions and not the current demand, storage facilities – in addition to a number of other measures – are indispensable in order to balance supply and demand. These very large amounts of electricity require affordable storage units.
Liquid metal batteries might make a vital contribution towards solving the problem.
The entire contents of these high temperature systems are liquid. The different densities permit the electrodes, which consist of molten metals, and the molten salt, which serves as an electrolyte, to arrange themselves in layers entirely by themselves in such a way that a fully operational battery is created. This permits the construction of large electrochemical storage facilities at relatively low costs.
The strong current that flows through the batteries during charging and discharging can, however, put the liquid inside the batteries into motion which, in turn, could stir the formerly stable layers. Under adverse conditions, the electrodes get into direct contact with one another which results in battery failure. This needs to be avoided at all costs.
The research conducted at the HZDR is committed, above all, towards understanding and preventing such current-driven instabilities. That is why the scientists are investigating liquid metals and molten salts in their battery laboratory and why they perform extensive computational simulations. Since electrodynamics, fluid mechanics, and electrochemistry are closely interwined, the occurring phenomena are highly complex. These processes can only be understood and managed in an interdisciplinary approach.
Research activities on system integration, scale-up and on the operation of liquid metal batteries are performed within the joint initiative Energy System 2050, where a network of eight Helmholtz centers aims to improve the understanding of energy systems and develops technological solutions for use by politics and industry.
- Measuring, simulating, and influencing flows in hot molten metals and salts
- Understanding and managing current-driven instabilities
- Contributing towards constructing large-scale liquid metal batteries
Involved HZDR institutes
- Weber, N.; Nimtz, M.; Personnettaz, P. et al.
Numerical simulation of mass transfer enhancement in liquid metal batteries by means of electro-vortex flow
Journal of Power Sources Advances 1(2020), 100004 (10.1016/j.powera.2020.100004)
- Personnettaz, P.; Landgraf, S.; Nimtz, M. et al.
Mass transport induced asymmetry in charge/discharge behavior of liquid metal batteries
Electrochemistry Communications 105(2019), 106496 (10.1016/j.elecom.2019.106496)
- Horstmann, G. M.; Herreman, W.; Weier, T.
Linear damped interfacial wave theory for an orbitally shaken upright circular cylinder
Journal of Fluid Mechanics 891(2020), A22 (10.1017/jfm.2020.163)
- Weber, N.; Landgraf, S.; Mushtaq, K. et al.
Modeling discontinuous potential distributions using the finite volume method, and application to liquid metal batteries
Electrochimica Acta 318(2019), 857-864 (10.1016/j.electacta.2019.06.085)
- Personnettaz, P.; Beckstein, P.; Landgraf, S. et al.
Thermally driven convection in Li||Bi liquid metal batteries
Journal of Power Sources 401(2018), 362-374 (10.1016/j.jpowsour.2018.08.069)
- Ashour, R.; Kelley, D.; Salas, A. et al.
Competing forces in liquid metal electrodes and batteries
Journal of Power Sources 378(2018), 301-310 (10.1016/j.jpowsour.2017.12.042)
- Horstmann, G. M.; Weber, N.; Weier, T.
Coupling and stability of interfacial waves in liquid metal batteries
Journal of Fluid Mechanics 845(2018), 1-35 (10.1017/jfm.2018.223)
- Weber, N.; Beckstein, P.; Herreman, W. et al.
Sloshing instability and electrolyte layer rupture in liquid metal batteries
Physics of Fluids 29(2017)5, 054101 (10.1063/1.4982900)