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Tetris for Industry

  • von Birte Vierjahn
  • 01.06.2023

It stands like a stacking game in the labs of the NanoEnergieTechnikZentrum (NETZ) – a modular roll-to-roll coater whose individual blocks can be assembled in different ways as required. Typically, such a pilot plant is used by technically oriented institutes or on the spot for preliminary tests in industrial enterprises. At universities, the full-scale plant is a rarity.

Every block stands for a different process in the chain, such as different application or drying processes. The coating system belongs to the research group of Dr. Doris Segets, professor for the process engineering of electrochemical functional materials and holder of the newly established Chair in Particle Science and Technology. Basically, her team – pictured, Adil Amin and Dr. Fatih Özcan – is working to make scientific developments usable in practice. The researchers are focusing particularly on energy applications and sustainable technologies, including batteries, fuel cells, electrolysers, and electrosynthesis.

What that means in more detailed terms is: How is it possible to transfer new materials that function outstandingly well in the lab to industrial applications? We still lack suitable technologies and scaling methods for new materials, because what works on a laboratory scale often looks quite different on an industrial scale – and is too expensive.

‘Trial and error won’t get you any further here,’ explains Segets. ‘You have to understand the fundamental processes and mechanisms.’ Her team is therefore analysing the properties of particles, for example to understand how they behave in contact with selected liquids. If the particles can be evenly distributed, the result is an ink that can be used to easily print structured, functional layers for numerous applications – initially on the coating system at NETZ.

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