Dr. Norbert Weber
Phone: +49 351 260 - 3112

Eye catcher

Numerical simulation of liquid metal batteries

Experiments on liquid metal batteries are challenging: high temperature, an inert atmosphere and the reactive cell components make (velocity) measurement difficult. We therefore conduct numerical simulation to complement the experiments. The numerical models are developed at HZDR and are implemented in the open source CFD library OpenFOAM. All solvers are continously improved and kept under version control using git. New models are validated with experimental data, theoretical models or other numerical models. Currently, the following set of single phase solvers is available at HZDR:

  • Solver for magnetohydrodynamic instabilities (Tayler instability)
  • Solver for double-diffusive convection (solutal convection)
  • Multi-region solver for magnetohydrodynamics (electro-vortex flow)

The multiphase solvers include:

  • Solver for magnetohydrodynamic instabilities (metal pad roll instability)
  • Solver for thermal convection (Oberbeck-Boussinesq approximation)

Meshes are typically generated using the OpenFOAM tool snappyHexMesh, using Autodesk Inventor and Salomé. In-house meshing tools include improved mesh generators for a better resolution of the boundary layers as well as a decomposition method for multi-region simulation. Moreover, in-house equation solvers, as e.g. a PCG solver with improved regularisation technique, are developed at HZDR.

Post processing software developed at HZDR include tools for a modal decomposition, for interface reconstruction, ultrasonic beam models as well as different averaging and fitting techniques.

Examined Instabilities

Foto: Rayleigh-Benard convection LMB ©Copyright: Dr. Norbert Weber

Thermal Effects in Liquid Metal Batteries

Thermal convection appears in liquid metal batteries mainly in the anode, but also in the electrolyte of the cell.
Foto: EVF lateral wire ©Copyright: Dr. Tom Weier

Electro-Vortex Flow

Electro-vortex flow may appear when an electric current di­verges or con­verges inside a liquid conductor.
Foto: Sloshing intability ©Copyright: Dr. Norbert Weber

Interfacial instabilities

The metal pad roll instability limits the possible electrolyte layer thickness as well as the electric current for aluminium reduction cells as well as liquid metal batteries.
Foto: Tayler instability ©Copyright: Dr. Norbert Weber

The Tayler Instability

The Tayler instability limits the up-scalability of liquid metal batteries and plays a major role in astrophysics.


  • Ashour, R.; Kelley, D.; Salas, A.; Starace, M.; Weber, N.; Weier, T.
    Competing forces in liquid metal electrodes and batteries
    Journal of Power Sources 378(2018) 301-310
  • Weber, N.; Beckstein, P.; Galindo, V.; Starace, M.; Weier, T.
    Electro-vortex flow simulation using coupled meshes
  • Weber, N.; Beckstein, P.; Herreman, W.; Horstmann, G.M.; Nore, C.; Stefani, F.; Weier, T.
    Sloshing instability and electrolyte layer rupture in liquid metal batteries
    Physics of Fluids 29(2017), 044101
  • Weber, N.; Beckstein, P.; Galindo, V.; Herreman, W.; Nore, C.; Stefani, F.; Weier, T.
    Metal pad roll instability in liquid metal batteries
    Magnetohydrodynamics 53(2017), 129-140
  • Weber, N.; Galindo, V.; Priede, J.; Stefani, F.; Weier, T.
    The influence of current collectors on Tayler instability and electro-vortex flows in liquid metal batteries
    Physics of Fluids 27(2015), 014103
  • Weber, N.; Galindo, V.; Stefani, F.; Weier, T.; Wondrak, T.
    Numerical simulation of the Tayler instability in liquid metals
    New Journal of Physics 15(2013), 043034


Dr. Norbert Weber
Phone: +49 351 260 - 3112