Basic and applied research on Liquid Metal Technologies represents a surprising bandwidth ranging from high-temperature energy conversion systems, new kinds of liquid metal batteries, the production of solar-grade silicon, carbon dioxide free production of hydrogen, liquid metal targets in modern neutron or particle sources and transmutation systems, casting 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 proposed Helmholtz Alliance LIMTECH shall bundle the R&D activities on Liquid Metal Technologies as they had grown over the past decade mainly at HZDR and KIT. In the same period of time, related activities at universities experienced a strong development, in particular at TUD, TUBAF, TUI and LUH. The basic idea of LIMTECH consists in a joint research programme among those partners, addressing break-through technological goals by bringing together for the first time all relevant Helmholtz and university institutions. In this way, the partly existing worldwide leading role of the German community in this field shall be continuously strengthened.
Most of the proposed activities 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. LIMTECH will represent for the Helmholtz Association a strategic added value by intensifying and bringing together research activities in a new innovative and highly interdisciplinary field.
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 have been proven to enable a complete monitoring of those systems. This is the essential basis in going ahead with a broader use and development of such liquid metal systems. In addition, a part of the Alliance activities will address the increase of energy and resource efficiency in metal casting and photovoltaic silicon production.
The Alliance shall involve a strong PhD programme and a dedicated Young Investigators Group in the cross-cutting field of measurement techniques for liquid metal flows. A special focus of the Alliance will be on cooperation with industry and the related transfer activities.