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Liquid Metals Are in the Focus of a New Research Alliance

Joint press release published by HZDR and KIT on June 26, 2012

Liquid metals are the research focus of the new Helmholtz Alliance LIMTECH (Liquid Metal Technologies). The Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), which coordinates the Alliance, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) pool their competences in this network together with other Helmholtz centers and universities in Germany and abroad. LIMTECH pursues the objective of researching and continuing the development of liquid metal technologies for a broad spectrum of applications. 20 million euros have been set aside for this project.

Liquid metals are used in numerous industrial branches, for example, in steel and light metal castings, and are becoming increasingly significant for such future-oriented technologies as new liquid metal batteries for energy storage, CO2-free hydrogen production, or the manufacture of solar cells. This is due to their capabilities of storing energy in large quantities and dissipating heat effectively. Their thermal conductivity is 50 to 100 times higher than the thermal conductivity of water; and they continue to stay liquid in a broad range of temperatures. That’s why liquid metals are best suited to cool down highly energetic processes. They, thus, also contribute towards improving the energy and resource efficiency since the efficiency of thermodynamic processes increases with increased temperatures. Two subprojects of the Alliance are, thus, also dedicated to the use of liquid metals in solar power plants.

Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler von HZDR, KIT und weiteren Forschungspartnern entwickeln Flüssigmetalltechnologien.
Scientists from HZDR, KIT and their research partners are developing liquid metal technologies.
Picture: Martin Lober/KIT

Over the past few years, the operational safety of technologies using liquid metals has increased significantly. This was made possible through new measurement procedures which permit the full monitoring of the requisite flows. Continuing this development is one goal of the new Helmholtz Alliance LIMTECH. Another goal is to increase the energy and resource efficiency of liquid metal technologies, for example, in metal casting, the separation of valuable metals from molten slags, and the production of solar silicon. “German research is already among the world’s best, and we’re planning to expand this position even further,” notes Dr. Gunter Gerbeth from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, who coordinates the LIMTECH Alliance.

In this Alliance, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) focus their competences in the liquid metal technologies sector together with other Helmholtz centers and universities in Germany and abroad. The Helmholtz Alliance LIMTECH is scheduled for a period of five years and has an overall investment volume of 20 million euros. The financial means are split equally between the Helmholtz Association’s Initiative and Networking Fund, on the one hand, and the participating Helmholtz centers and partners, on the other hand. A program for doctoral candidates is to be established within the scope of the Alliance. Another focus is on the close cooperation with partners from industry so that the research results are implemented technologically in a timely manner.

Participating Helmholtz Centers:

Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR; coordination), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ), German Aerospace Center (DLR)

External Partners:

Technische Universität Dresden, Ilmenau University of Technology, Leibniz Universität Hannover, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, University of Potsdam, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, RWTH Aachen University, Institute of Physics Riga (Latvia), Coventry University (UK)

For more information, please contact:

Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR)
Dr. Gunter Gerbeth
Director of the Institute of Fluid Dynamics and Coordinator of the Helmholtz Alliance LIMTECH
Phone: +49 351 260-3480

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Prof. Dr. Thomas Wetzel, Prof. Dr. Robert Stieglitz
Institute of Thermal Process Engineering, Institute of Neutron Physics and Reactor Technology
Phone: +49 271 6084-6447

Press Contact

Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR)
Anja Weigl
Phone: +49 351 260-2452
Bautzner Landstr. 400 | 01328 Dresden

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Monika Landgraf
Phone: +49 721 608 48126 
Kaiserstr. 12 | 76131 Karlsruhe