August 9, 2018 | DLR cross-sectoral GigaStore project starts

Inexpensive storage for the energy and transport systems of the future

Focus: energy, storage

How can large amounts of energy be stored quickly, cost-effectively and over longer periods of time, where required? In the cross-sectoral GigaStore project, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is working on the further development of power and heat storage for all areas of application. In addition, scientists are devising computer simulation methods that will allow them to develop and test storage technologies more quickly. Eleven DLR institutes are conducting research within the project, which will run for four years and has a funding of around 13 million euros.

Power and heat storage

DLR is researching different storage technologies as part of the cross-sectoral GigaStore project. In terms of battery research, scientists are developing new concepts with a higher storage density, which can be used for the power grid, in transport and in the aerospace sector. Research is also being conducted into power-to-X-to-power storage, which converts electrical energy into heat, compressed air or gas, and if necessary, back into power. Such storage systems have the advantage of being able to store large amounts of energy on a giga scale at low cost and for a period of hours to months, with almost no losses. "Energy storage systems are a basic prerequisite for a successful Energy Transition. With the cross-sectoral GigaStore project, DLR is devising important solutions for the energy and transport systems of the future," says Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board.

"With batteries and power-to-X-to-power storage systems, we can cover a very wide range of storage needs," says Andre Thess, Director of the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics and Project Coordinator. "By working together on this cross-sectoral project, we will gain a better understanding of the possibilities and limits of the technologies and further develop storage systems for every area of application."

Faster development through simulation

Another pillar of the cross-sectoral GigaStore project is the development of methods for energy storage simulation. As in all areas of innovation, development work can be significantly accelerated with the help of computer simulations and virtual design. "In this area, we can draw upon the aeronautics research conducted at DLR, where simulations are already being used successfully to develop new aviation technology. This also makes it possible for DLR to deploy this kind of disruptive innovation very quickly in energy storage development," explains Thess. Such methods are set to be applied to both nanobatteries and large-scale battery systems. Simulations also play a major role in the field of energy systems analysis, where DLR researchers can build upon many years of experience.

Less greenhouse gases thanks to customised storage

Battery systems are already being used in a number of wind power and photovoltaic systems. "The fluctuating power generated by wind power and PV systems is increasingly being buffered using battery systems. But when it comes to storing energy over several days, for instance during the hours of darkness or slack periods, a much greater capacity is needed. DLR is developing power-to-heat-to-power storage systems for such circumstances," says Thess. Giga-scale storage has the potential to significantly increase the share of renewable energy in the power grid and contribute towards reducing emissions.

The research work being conducted under the cross-sectoral GigaStore project is closely coordinated with FutureFuels, another DLR cross-sectoral project in which scientists are investigating the production of synthetic fuels.


Dorothee Bürkle

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Media Relations, Energy and Transport Research

André Schneider

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics
Pfaffenwaldring 38-40, 70569 Stuttgart

Prof. Dr. André Thess

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics
Pfaffenwaldring 38-40, 70569 Stuttgart