Energy Industry and Environmental Technology

The energy industry is currently undergoing great structural changes: Renewable energies are becoming more and more important and conventional generation systems have to withstand the increased pressure of competition. In both areas, Fraunhofer ILT offers powerful process technologies to make the respective components even more energy-efficient and cost-effective.

For renewable energies, Fraunhofer ILT is working on manufacturing issues relating to organic and inorganic photovoltaics, in which high-performance interconnection technologies are integrated into highly productive plants. Particularly in the field of organic solar cells, Fraunhofer ILT provides state-of-the-art coating, laser-based thin-film modification and structuring systems in a roll-to-roll process. These are characterized by particularly high flexibility.

In addition, Fraunhofer ILT has developed technology that can improve power and efficiency in traditional areas of energy production. In the future, additive manufacturing methods (laser additive manufacturing) will be used to produce turbine components for even higher combustion temperatures and, thus, higher energy efficiency. Furthermore, laser cladding makes it possible to efficiently repair worn turbine parts. The engineers at Fraunhofer ILT have already received several awards in this area. In addition, they have developed novel methods to produce cooling air holes in turbine blades or to structure the surfaces of solar cells for an improvement in absorption.

In addition to the energy sector, Fraunhofer ILT is also addressing a wide range of tasks in the production and recovery of raw materials and valuable materials. In the field of electronics, for example, rare raw materials can be selected and recovered with high accuracy from disused mobile phones via plasma-assisted analysis.

High-speed welding and cutting of bipolar plates

Premiere: Fraunhofer ILT will be holding its Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2 in Aachen on March 18, 2020. It will focus on laser welding and cutting of bipolar plates and the entire fuel cell manufacturing process chain.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.
Lasers can be used for efficient production of bipolar plates for fuel cells.

In fuel cells, hydrogen and oxygen, spatially separated, are synthesized into water via electrochemical reactions that release electrical energy and heat. In addition to the membrane electrode unit, the bipolar plate is the central component of the repeating unit of a fuel cell stack. Overall, when a plate is produced, the steps required do not currently allow the use of a cost-efficient concept since the process involves manufacturing in batches and long transport distances. As a member of the CoBIP project, Fraunhofer ILT is developing and integrating a roll-to-roll laser welding and laser cutting module to create an innovative overall solution for manufacturing high-quality bipolar plates.

The challenge in using laser microwelding for this application is twofold: the welds of a bipolar plate must have a certain tightness and the feed rate must increase significantly. Fraunhofer ILT is investigating scanner-guided remote cutting as well as gas-assisted high-speed cutting with lasers to determine if they are suitable to cut bipolar plates in single layers, double layers or as a hollow structure in the area of the cooling channels.

By reliably joining and contouring metallic double-walled bipolar plates in a gas-tight manner and at high process speeds, this process lays a foundation for efficiently producing bipolar plates or fuel cells.

CoBiP is funded on behalf of the BMWi (German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy) under the grant number 03ETB020A.

Laser-based sensor technology for recycling metals instead of mining mineral resources

With a laser-based sorting process developed in the BMBF PLUS project, valuable alloys can be efficiently recovered from metal scrap.
© Cronimet Ferroleg. GmbH, Karlsruhe, Germany.
With a laser-based sorting process developed in the BMBF PLUS project, valuable alloys can be efficiently recovered from metal scrap.

Efficient recycling processes are becoming increasingly important for securing the supply of raw materials in the long term. Together with the Karlsruhe-based company Cronimet Ferroleg., Fraunhofer ILT has developed laser processes for the fast and accurate detection and sorting of alloys in metal waste as part of the BMBF project PLUS. The results are now being used in the EU-funded project REVaMP and put on a universal basis: In this project, 16 partners from Germany, Poland and Spain are working on a laser-based sensor technology for integration into existing industrial plants, which can significantly improve the resource efficiency of companies. 

A Selection of Project Results 2020

Projects with participation of the Fraunhofer ILT

Strategic Fraunhofer Projects

A selection of strategic projects involving the Fraunhofer ILT can be found on our cluster website.

Current Collaborative Projects

Here you will find a selection of current collaborative projects in which Fraunhofer ILT is involved.

Completed Collaborative Projects

Here you will find a selection of completed collaborative projects in which Fraunhofer ILT is involved.

Annual Report

In our current annual report you will find a selection of further project results.

Contact Research & Development

Dr. Achim Lenenbach (acting)

“Measurement Technology
and EUV Sources”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-124
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Dipl.-Ing. Hans-Dieter Hoffmann

“Lasers and Laser Optics”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-206
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Prof. Arnold Gillner

“Ablation and Joining”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-148
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Jasmin Saewe M.Sc.

“Laser Powder Bed Fusion”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-135
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Dr. Thomas Schopphoven

“Laser Material Deposition”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-8107
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Dr. Jochen Stollenwerk (acting)

“Functional Layers and Surfaces”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-398
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