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€20M European research alliance focuses on liquid metals; energy applications

A new 5-year, €20-million European research alliance—LIMTECH—is pursuing the objective of researching and continuing the development of liquid metal technologies for a broad spectrum of applications. The Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), which coordinates the Alliance, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are pooling their competences in this network together with other Helmholtz centers and universities in Europe.

Liquid metals are used in numerous industrial branches, for example, in steel and light metal castings, and are becoming increasingly significant for technologies such as new liquid metal batteries for energy storage, CO2-free hydrogen production, or the manufacture of solar cells.

Liquid metals can store energy in large quantities and dissipate heat effectively. Their thermal conductivity is 50 to 100 times higher than the thermal conductivity of water; and they continue to stay liquid in a broad range of temperatures. That’s why liquid metals are best suited to cool down highly energetic processes. They, thus, also contribute towards improving the energy and resource efficiency since the efficiency of thermodynamic processes increases with increased temperatures.

Two sub-projects of the Alliance are dedicated to the use of liquid metals in solar power plants.

Over the past few years, the operational safety of technologies using liquid metals has increased significantly. This was made possible through new measurement procedures which permit the full monitoring of the requisite flows. Continuing this development is one goal of the new Helmholtz Alliance LIMTECH. Another goal is to increase the energy and resource efficiency of liquid metal technologies, for example, in metal casting, the separation of valuable metals from molten slags, and the production of solar silicon.

A program for doctoral candidates is to be established within the scope of the Alliance. Another focus is on the close cooperation with partners from industry so that the research results are implemented technologically in a timely manner. Participating Helmholtz Centers: Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR; coordination), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ), German Aerospace Center (DLR) External Partners: Ilmenau University of Technology, Technische Universität Dresden, Leibniz Universität Hannover, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, University of Potsdam, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, RWTH Aachen University, Institute of Physics Riga (Latvia), Coventry University (UK).


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