Energy efficiency and energy storage will play a key role in the future coverage of our energy needs with renewable energies. Since 2013 scientists from three DLR institutes have been working interdisciplinarily on solutions for a sustainable energy supply at CeraStorE, the DLR competence center for ceramic materials and thermal storage technology in energy research.
The DLR institutes of Solar Research, Engineering Thermodynamics and Materials Research are working together at CeraStorE. They focus on basic research for innovative materials as well as on application-oriented issues in collaboration with industrial partners. Applications include, for example, thermal energy storage systems, solar power plants in baseload operation or efficient gas turbines.
The core topics of the solar researchers at CeraStorE are the material development for solar power plants and research related to solar fuels. Together with scientists from the other institutes involved, the development of thermal storage technologies is being promoted and materials supporting more efficient power generation of conventional power plants are being tested.
Customised materials for solar power plants
The DLR solar researchers have extensive experience in the field of solar power plant technology and the production of synthetic fuels by solar thermal processes. These processes require very high temperatures, which pose special requirements on the materials used. Ceramic materials that can withstand extreme temperature loads have been developed at the Institute for Materials Research for several years. In cooperation with Solar Research, these materials are now being optimized for its use in solar power plants.
Solar energy has an enormous potential for the production of fuels such as hydrogen. If the development of efficient processes for the production of large quantities of solar fuels succeeds, these could meet the increasing energy demands of future generations without polluting the atmosphere with harmful CO2. In addition, hydrogen is one of the most important raw materials in the chemical industry and can be used instead of natural gas, for example for the production of fertilizer.
At CeraStorE researchers explore the fundamentals of producing hydrogen and other fuels using solar energy.
Links to universities and industry
With its technical equipment and large-scale laboratories the CeraStorE offers ideal working conditions for energy and material researchers. There, scientists can test processes and materials on a larger scale and thereby research close to the industrial application. This significantly shortens the time between development and market launch. The integration and the constant exchange with universities and companies is also part of the concept of "CeraStorE”.