Our history

The German-Australian Alliance for Electrochemical Technologies for the Storage of Renewable Energy “ZENITH”

The constantly increasing proportion of renewable energy supplied to the grid means that energy storage systems are becoming increasingly important. Until now, very few energy storage technologies have been able to reach the required levels of technical maturity at competitive costs, especially in the area of electricity storage. Since 2017 the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) are working closely together as an alliance to intensify research activities in the field of electrochemical energy storage systems and to establish a joint international research center for stationary energy storage (CENELEST) at UNSW in Sydney, Australia. The aim of this cooperation is to strengthen the world-class expertise in redox flow batteries, and concurrently develop other types of batteries and fuel cells in order to cover the entire range of electrochemical energy storage needs. Through the exchange of already existing extensive knowledge, advanced modern equipment and research networks, topics can be tackled more efficiently than would be possible with the partners acting individually. Within the framework of this process, common research preferences have been established and started at an early stage. These activities are continuously being developed through the exchange of researchers and students between institutions. This allows innovative research with additional topics on the economic operation of stationary energy storage solutions to be taken into account both in general and in connection with renewable energy networks. In the context of linking fundmental research (UNSW: simulation, materials, heat transfer, rapid prototyping, chemistry) and applied research (ICT: electrochemistry, cells, systems, production) the work is not only focused on scientific competences, but also on the requirements of industry. This provides industry easier access to the extensive capabilities of both institutions. In addition to the core competencies, this also allows for an in-depth analysis of interdisciplinary issues, e. g. together with the areas of weather forecasting, control systems, grid integration, as well as social aspects, safety and life cycle assessment.

Our mission

The Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (ICT) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) are working closely together as an alliance to intensify research activities in the field of electrochemical energy storage systems and to establish a joint international research center for stationary energy storage (CENELEST) at UNSW in Sydney, Australia. The aim of this cooperation is to strengthen the world-class expertise in redox flow batteries, and concurrently develop other types of batteries and fuel cells in order to cover the entire range of electrochemical energy storage needs for renewable energy.

Our team

Prof. Dr. Jens Tübke

Prof. Tübke's department "Applied Electrochemistry" at the Fraunhofer ICT has covered a wide range of topics, ranging from basic investigations and material developments to system behaviour, for over 25 years. The current research fields include, for example, the development and optimisation of various energy storage devices and converters for stationary, transportable and mobile applications, such as fuel cells, electrochemical syntheses (power-to-X), lithium-ion batteries, sodium-ion batteries, lithium-sulphur batteries, lithium-oxygen batteries, as well as vanadium redox flow batteries, vanadium-air redox flow batteries, hydrogen-bromine redox flow batteries, zinc-bromine redox flow batteries and organic redox flow batteries. This includes the development and investigation of the behaviour of catalysts for fuel cells and electrolysers, production and development of catalyst-coated membranes and membrane electrode assemblies, thermoplastic electrode materials, electrolytes for redox flow batteries, new active materials, modelling and simulation of thermal, electrochemical, electrical and economical behaviour of cells, cell stacks and systems, thermal designs, cell and cell stack developments, system developments and analyses, as well as safety tests.

Dr. Chris Menictas

Chris Menictas has been actively involved in the energy efficiency sector for over 20 years. His research interests include: energy storage; flow battery and fuel cell systems; energy harvesting; temperature shifting devices for bio-medical applications, refrigeration and air conditioning efficiency optimisation; and thermal morphing. Dr. Menictas is Head of the Energy Storage and Refrigeration Research Group in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, UNSW Sydney Australia.

Prof. Maria Skyllas-Kazacos

Maria Skyllas-Kazacos AM is an Emeritus Professor in Chemical Engineering at UNSW Sydney Australia. She is one of the original inventors of the All-Vanadium Redox Flow Battery and holds more than 30 patents relating to the technology. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and has received several awards including Member of the Order of Australia, the CHEMECA Medal and the Castner Medal.

Jens Noack

Jens Noack studied Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology at Dresden University of Applied Sciences. He has worked at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology in the Applied Electrochemistry department where he largely worked on the development of redox flow batteries. From 2009 to 2011 he was the acting group lead of the newly created redox flow bat-tery group and then took on the role of deputy group leader. Since 2011 he has been a doctoral student at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT). Since then he has been working as project lead and Senior Development Engineer at Fraunhofer ICT. His research and development activity focuses on stationary energy storage devices for renewable energies as well as the development of innovative energy storage and energy conversion systems. He is the Chairman of the German standardisation group for redox flow battery energy storage devices and a member of several national and international standardisation groups for batteries, fuel cells and electrolysers. He is the author of several publications and patents as well as a member of the scientific advisory committee for the international flow battery forum.