Sections

The department is organized into ten research sections focusing on scientific competences within, e.g., electrochemistry, synthesis, solid state physics, electron microscopy, catalysis, process technology, rheology and modelling.The sections pursue scientific expertise in their respective fields while contributing to the cross-cutting research themes of the department as needed.

Below you can find a short description of each section. Several sections also have homepages where you can find further information.

Section for Applied Electrochemistry

Section for Applied Electrochemistry

The research in the Section for Applied Electrochemistry provides the link between composition, microstructure and functionality through the combination of electrochemical investigation, micro-structural characterization, and materials science. This is the key to understand and improve electrochemical devices. Our research activities comprise:

  • Design, development, and electrochemical investigation of electrochemical devices
  • Development and application of methodologies for detailed electrochemical characterization at cell and stack level of devices such as solid oxide fuel & electrolysis cells (SOC) and batteries, with special emphasis on operating those devices under conditions relevant to real applications
  • Fundamental understanding of performance and durability by detailed in situ diagnostics at cell and stack level in order to improve the electrochemical devices.

The ultimate goal is to understand how the single process steps are occurring at the microscale in the different layers and on the active sites in real composite components at the cell, stack and module level, and how they develop over time and under realistic operating conditions. These often include high temperatures up to 900 °C, toxic gasses such as CO, or explosive gasses like hydrogen. Our main characterization method is electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). It has been developed intensively with the aim to determine resistance contributions of single reaction steps to the overall resistance of the device, including the correlation with the compositional and microstructural properties. The understanding of performance and durability on the microscale provides the basis for improvement of the cell. EIS has successfully been developed for a large range of subjects, from single electrodes towards stacks for solid oxide cells and for other electrochemical devices such as batteries.

Homepage: www.aec.energy.dtu.dk

Section for Atomic Scale Modelling and Materials

Section for Atomic Scale Modelling and Materials

The scientific focus in the Section for Atomic Scale Modelling and Materials is computational design of materials for energy conversion and storage, based on a detailed atomic scale understanding of their structure and kinetics, as obtained from density functional theory (DFT) level calculations. An essential aspect of the work is the development and application of novel computational approaches, which are closely linked to experimental in situ structural and electrochemical characterization. Common for the research areas is a shared computational framework based on computational screening and prediction of composition and structure, and ionic and electronic transport mechanisms. Recent achievements include both method development and applications of DFT to materials screening and transport processes in next-generation battery materials as well as to electrocatalytic reactions.

Our research focus on extending the complexity, time and length scales accessible to our DFT-based computational approaches. We seek to strengthen the development and application of big data/deep learning techniques to design chemical composition and (nano)structure of materials with new or improved functionalities. One promising activity is the development and application of methods for description of complex solid-liquid interfaces and charge-transfer reactions across them. This requires combined use of multiple techniques, such as ab initio molecular dynamics, QM/MM (quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics), explicit solvation and constrained-DFT.

Homepage: www.asc.energy.dtu.dk

Section for Ceramic Engineering and Science

Section for Ceramic Engineering and Science

The Section for Ceramic Engineering and Science does research on complex functional ceramic based architectures with tailored microstructures needed for high performance energy and related technologies. The section has a long history on multilayer structures initially for planar solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), broadened now to solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOEC), gas separation membranes, flue gas purification, thermoelectric and liquid filtration, both in planar and tubular designs. Other achievements include exceptional performance of electrospun ceramic nanofibers, based on titanium based catalysts, being used as self-standing catalytic filters for selective catalytic reduction for NOx conversion. For solid oxide cells (SOCs), nanometric suspensions and reactive sol gel-based inks have been successfully developed for inkjet printing. The research is strongly supported by advanced characterization tools to monitor the numerous processing parameters (rheological behaviour, surface properties, temperature…) and relate them to the final properties (layer thickness, grain size, porosity, shape…).

The section has the state-of-the-art facilities and a strong background for multilayer and thin film processing (screen printing, tape casting, dip coating, sol-gel, inkjet printing, sintering,….) of ceramic and composite or hybrid devices (metal-ceramic multilayers or ceramic-polymer nanostructures) and in characterization tools along the process chain.

Homepage: www.ces.energy.dtu.dk

Section for Electrofunctional Materials

Section for Electrofunctional Materials

The Section for Electrofunctional Materials performs research on a range of topics in functional materials with particular emphasis on properties relating to the electronic structure of the materials (magnetism, thermoelectricity, caloric effects, and oxide heterostructures). Materials design and characterization are supplemented by modelling of materials properties
and by design and construction of prototype devices.

Within caloric materials (materials which heat up reversibly in response to an external field, e.g. a magnetic field) we have an integrated approach featuring both materials development and characterization, modelling of materials and components (e.g. permanent magnets), device design, and prototype construction and test. We have demonstrated magnetic refrigeration devices with world-leading performance and the first elastocaloric device with active regeneration.

The section investigates high-temperature thermoelectric materials using, e.g., high resolution Seebeck effect measurements, and have developed materials with some of the highest thermoelectric figures of merit (zT) of oxides. We have also constructed thermoelectric generators incorporating such materials. Device design is aided by models incorporating, e.g., the influence of contact resistances.

Oxide heterostructures is a rapidly growing research field where two-dimensional systems with novel functionalities can be created at an atomically flat interface of two different oxides. The films are grown by pulsed laser deposition (PLD). Recent discoveries by our group include the highest reported electron mobility of a spinel/perovskite interface, the observation of the quantum Hall effect at oxide interfaces, and the demonstration of the ability to modulation dope such interfaces.

Section for Electrochemical Materials and Interfaces

Section for Electrochemical Materials and Interfaces

EMI does research on novel materials with tailored electronic and ionic transport properties, as well as designed structures and interfaces down to the nano and atomic scale for electrochemical energy conversion and storage technologies such as batteries, fuel cells, electrolysis, but also heat storage and functional coatings.

The materials research is supported by advanced characterization techniques to monitor the functional (e.g. electrochemical, conversion, and transport properties) as well as the structural and chemical properties of materials and interfaces ‘during operation' or at ‘close to operational' conditions.

In the area of water electrolysis a novel type of alkaline electrolysis cell has been developed. The cell is based on a hybrid electrolyte, and operated at elevated temperatures and pressures (200-250 °C and 50 bar), resulting in a much higher hydrogen production rate. These type of cells are currently explored further as so-called tandem electrochemical
reactors with special electrocatalysts for the electrochemically coupled oxidation and reduction of precursors for the synthesis of a biodegradable plastic.

Based on a long experience with solid state electrochemistry and defect chemistry, the section has also developed next generation electrodes based on nanoscaled electrocatalysts, supported on tailored and conductive oxide ceramics such as modified ceria and strontium titanates. These electrodes have been demonstrated as redox stable anodes for solid oxide fuel cells. The concept of nanoscaled electrocatalysts allows to de-couple structural stability, electronic and catalytic properties, which offers a higher design flexibility for solid oxide cell electrodes.

The development of in situ and in operando studies is a strong activity in the section. An example is characterization of high-temperature solid oxide cell electrodes as regards their surface topography, chemistry, and conductivity in a specially designed controlled atmosphere high temperature scanning probe microscope (CAHT-SPM), and by Raman spectroscopy.

Homepage: www.emi.energy.dtu.dk

Section for Energy Systems Analysis

Section for Energy Systems and Analysis

The aim of the Section for Energy Systems Analysis is to exploit the department’s deep insight into a variety of energy conversion and storage technologies to achieve better energy system analyses. We call our approach ‘technology-near analyses' meaning that we are in close contact with researchers who actually develop the new technologies in the laboratory.

The major part of our work lies within core energy analysis. In a close collaboration with the Danish Transmission Service Operator for electricity and gas, Energinet.dk, the section
has been working on modelling energy production and conversion on a system level with a special focus on the interaction between electricity, biomass and gas systems. Within this topic, we have contributed to computer models used for prediction of the future Danish energy system.

The section also performs consultancy work for public authorities like the European Commission and the Danish Energy Agency.

Section for Imaging and Structural Analysis

Section for Imaging and Structural Analysis

The Section for Imaging and Structural Analysis focuses on the fundamental understanding of the properties of interfaces and micro-/nanostructures in multiscale granular/porous functional materials for energy applications. The methods applied are centered on the three complementary probes; electrons, X-rays and neutrons and emphasis is on 2D and 3D
ex situ and in situ advanced imaging and structural analysis. The goal is always to achieve quantitative data from crystal structure, chemical composition and phases, and morphology (microstructure) whether it is bulk, interfaces or surfaces and at multiscale. The purpose is to be able to link materials’ microstructure and composition to properties and performance when the materials are parts of components for energy devices.

The section has established several types of in situ sample environments for advanced 2D and 3D (synchrotron) X-ray and neutron diffraction and imaging analysis at high temperatures, in a reactive gas, and with current applied to a device. Concrete examples are:

  • 3D X-ray ptychography on polymer tandem solar cells incl. new algorithms to improve the time and spatial resolution
  • in situ X-ray scattering of perovskite solar cell active layers during roll-to-roll coating on flexible substrates
  • tracking and simulation of solid oxide cell electrode microstructural evolution during redox and annealing by high resolution nanotomography
  • first synchrotron in operando symmetric solid oxide cell test simulating electrolyte failure under harsh operating conditions that reveals large lattice parameter gradients across the electrolyte and implying large internal stress build up
  • in situ Bragg-edge neutron imaging creep and redox behavior in solid oxide electrochemical cells
  • 3D polarimetric neutron tomography of magnetic fields.
  • in situ high temperature transmission electron microscopy analysis of a model electrochemical cell in a reactive gas while drawing a current through the nanostructure.

These types of analysis are important factors in the feedback loop of materials and device modelling, testing and development in many of the technologies researched at DTU Energy.

Homepage: www.isa.energy.dtu.dk

Section for Mixed Conductors

Section for Mixed Conductors

In the Section for Mixed Conductors we study the ionic and electronic transport processes in solid oxide materials, in bulk, at, or across surfaces and interfaces. Of particular interest is oxide ion transport in electrolytes and in mixed ionic/electronic conductors. We study also cation transport, which is important for solid state reaction rates and corrosion in high temperature materials. An important aim is to reveal correlations between structure/composition and functionality.

Within solid-state chemistry and thermodynamic modelling our activities include CALPHAD modelling (prediction of phase diagrams) and studies of defect chemistry and diffusion
processes. A special effort is devoted to studies of corrosion at high temperature and identification of suitable alloys and protective coatings for our technologies.

Activities within synthesis and characterization of functional oxides span from development of novel synthesis routes and characterization techniques to component manufacture. The mechanisms and kinetics of the oxygen exchange reaction on surfaces and specially designed systems for studies of this (thin films, patterned electrodes) are key competences.

Finally, we have a significant effort in solid mechanics to analyse mechanical stress states in multilayered and complex components. This includes analysis of contact problems and experimental determination of mechanical properties under high temperature and controlled atmosphere. The activities are supported by advanced multi-physics modelling.

Section for Organic Energy Materials

Section for Organic Energy Materials

For the past decade the Section for Organic Energy Materials has been among the most successful groups within the research field of polymer solar cells and has generated a high number of results within synthesis of polymer materials, solar cell preparation and characterization and installation. Recently, the focus has broadened to include other functional organic materials for energy applications.

The section has a strong background in organic chemistry, synthesis and characterization of materials, roll coating, roll-to-roll coating, scaling, stability (outdoor/indoor/solar concentrator, environment chamber), and characterization of various electronics. Along with this is a strong understanding of the whole value chain of the technology, e.g. from materials design and preparation to application and installation of polymer solar cells.

While continuing research on polymer solar cells, including the development of inks for large scale manufacture, the section is also considering novel types of solar cells, e.g. the so-called perovskite cells. Novel concepts for additive manufacturing is another growing area of research.

Homepage: www.oem.energy.dtu.dk

Section for Proton Conductors

Section for Proton Conductors

The Section for Proton Conductors focuses on materials science and electrochemical systems and components based on proton conducting cells in a broad sense, at low to intermediate temperature (below 400 °C). The electrolytes include direct proton conductors as well as indirect proton conductors like aqueous hydroxide. Research also encompasses electrocatalysis and development of complete cells around proton conducting electrolytes.

We synthesize polymers and manufacture and characterize proton conducting membranes. Special attention is devoted to high temperature membranes (polybenzimidazole, PBI) with chemical stability in acid as well as in base. Such polymers have been successfully applied in high-temperature PEM fuel cells, a research field in which we are pioneers. Lately, similar membranes have been successfully applied in alkaline electrolysis cells. Solid or liquid inorganic proton conductors are also studied for electrolysis above 200 °C.

Within electrocatalysis our research focus is on synthesis and characterization of platinum and non-platinum catalysts for the acidic environment, and on metal oxides for the alkaline environment. We have discovered complex nanostructured oxygen reduction catalysts with carbon encapsulated iron carbide particles, produced via a high pressure/high temperature autoclave synthesis technique. The activity is high in acidic as well as alkaline environment.

Electrodes and cells are developed based on the in-house membranes and catalysts. Electrospinning is being implemented for both electrode and membrane structures. A large effort is on long-term durability testing. Cells based on phosphates at 200-250 °C are studied for electrolysis and methanation of CO2.

A significant strength of the section is the capability for addressing all components (electrolytes, catalysts electrodes and complete cells) and consequently their interfaces, from the points of view of both materials science and electrochemistry.

Homepage: www.pro.energy.dtu.dk