New long term research centre for batteries at the TU Graz 

They are found in any mobile phone or notebook, they start vehicles or store energy: Batteries are an indispensable part of everyday life. Developing safe, high-performance storage systems , which in future will have even longer life-cycles, is one of the reasons the new Christian- Doppler- (CD-) laboratory for Lithium-batteries was opened at the Institute for Chemical Technologies of materials of the TU Graz. Business partners of this instrumental institution, which was sponsored by the Ministry of economic affairs, are AVL List and Infineon Technologies Austria.

They are portable or they themselves bring something into motion – with their constantly expanding range of applications, electro-chemical energy storage devices are becoming ever more important. With a 95% level of efficiency, Lithium-ion batteries are some of the most promising energy storage concepts. A better understanding of the applicable basic electro-chemical processes forms the basis for the further development of batteries: “Advances in energy storage technology can only be achieved through additional knowledge on the chemical and physical principles”, said Reinhart Kögerler, president of the Christian Doppler Research Association, during the opening of the new laboratory in Graz.

That is why this, Ministry of economic affairs sponsored, instrumental CD-Model with its cooperation between companies and fundamental research is ideally suited here. Michael Losch, section head in the Ministry of Economic affairs, emphasized the importance of the new facility for its location, Austria. “Through the research work in the new long-term research centre, the energy storage in batteries is to be optimised. The new long-term research centre hereby makes an entirely new contribution to competence– and knowledge building for the desired energy revolution. Hereby, particularly in the automobile industry sector which is very important for Austria, the technological leadership of the Austrian suppliers can be further expanded”, said Losch.

“Wandering” Ions
The basic principle of electrochemical energy storage in a Lithium-Ion-Battery sounds simple: During the charging and discharging of a battery, Lithium-Ions “wander” to and from the two poles and in the process pass through structurally very different materials. Here the individual components of a battery take part in close interaction. A closer study of the complex processes that take place is one of the scientist´s main aims. For this purpose the team around Martin Wilkening specifically study micro-structures and dynamic processes in new battery materials using methods of solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance and impedance spectroscopy, a hitherto rare combination of two complementary techniques which are operated at the TU Graz.

Understanding ageing
Improving the life-span of the storage systems is also an important focus of the research work. “Temperature influences or intensive charging and discharging cause the batteries to age faster”, explained laboratory head Martin Wilkening. “Once we know more about these processes, we can improve the life-span and safety”, that is the goal. The miniaturisation of components is also an important topic: Here the researchers are concerned with the use of new materials to create micro-batteries.

Source: TU Graz/ICTM

Univ.-Prof. Dr.rer.nat. Martin Wilkening
Institut für Chemische Technologie von Materialien
Tel.: +43 (0) 316 873 32330
Mobil: +43 (0) 664 88 796 957