Fraunhofer CEI-Developing glass compositions

Fraunhofer CEI- Water Filtration Unit

CEI Fields of Research

Fields of Research

Fraunhofer CEI researchers – comprising faculty from the University of Connecticut, Fraunhofer and allied research organizations – together with industry partners, focus on research, development and commercialization efforts in four core areas: Batteries and Energy Storage, Fuel Cells and Electrolyzers, Microgrid Engineering and Environmental Technology. Research underway within CEI is characterized by its holistic inclusion of the entire development process, from the raw materials to prototype system development for energy conversion and storage. The development of production processes and technologies is offered too.



Batteries and Energy Storage


"Batteries and Energy Storage" encompasses the development of novel functional materials with nano- and micro structures. Technologies, materials and processes will be utilized extensively for the discovery and development of utility-scale novel energy storage systems for integration In modern electrical grids.

These R&D activities include new materials, especially metals and ceramics, for anode, cathode and electrolytes of batteries and new methods for joining metals and ceramics, glasses and metal for the purpose of sealing and separation.

Core Research Areas

Materials Development

Foundational research In the utilization of commonly available raw materials (non-strategic to non-noble) and resources, which are in abundant supply in the United States, and device engineering focusing on reduced environmental impact and positive economics, will be carried out for the development of cutting-edge technologies.

Battery Cell Development

A continuous process will be established - from the development of raw materials via milling, powder characterization, slurries preparation, and different preparation methods for electrolytes and electrodes, to completed cells, including initialization.  All technologies will be explored and refined for the development of longer-life, safely operating electrolytes, anodes and cathodes.  High-temperature functional ceramic and composite systems will be developed using the emerging "combinatorial / genomics" approach.

Energy Storage Systems Development

This scope of work entails device fabrication, thermal integration and thermal management of utility-scale battery-based storage devices, with a focus on performance testing within the lab and under field conditions within electrical grids.



Fuel Cells and Electrolyzers


'Fuel Cells and Electrolyzers" encompass the development of materials, technologies, and systems for the efficient and reliable generation of electrical energy. Technologies and processes are also being developed for hydrogen and synthesis gas production- for use in energy storage or as early-stage synfuels and include the engineering of entire energy conversion systems.

These R&D activities include the development of new material cell components namely anodes,cathodes and electrolytes of fuel and electrolytic cells; stack components, catalytic converters, especially burners and reformers;  and new methods for joining metals and ceramics, glasses and metal for the purpose of sealing.

Core Research Areas

Fuel Cell Development

Continuous processes will be established for the fabrication  of cell components  - from the identification of materials chemistry to the development of raw materials via milling, powder characterization, slurries preparation as well as different preparation methods for electrolytes and electrodes to completed cells. Techniques will be optimized for life enhancement and safe operation.  High-temperature functional ceramic and composite systems will be developed using the emerging "combinatorial / genomics" approach as considered in energy storage system development.

Stack Development

This scope of work entails the integration of the cells (fuel cells or electrolytic cells) into stacks. The cells will be electrically connected, and the manifolds for the media supply will be constructed.  The design - including output voltage, dimensions, and manifold's position - can be adapted to the requirements of the consumer.  Another focus involves the development of materials (especially glasses and metals) for different soldering and joining techniques for applications as sealing elements, pastes for printing, and metal coatings.

Systems Engineering, Prototypes and Field Trials

This area coalesces the extensive activities in the fields of multi-physics modeling and simulations (SOFCs, heterogeneous catalysis, reactor design, and heat transfer).

Systems for the efficient provision of electricity and heat are designed, constructed, and tested. An important task is the development of high temperature fuel cells (SOFCs) as energy converters w1th electrical output of approximately 100W to several KW.

Entire systems, as well as the individual components, are being developed. This indudes burners for various fuels as well as the reformer, heat exchanger and media supply for the integrated system.




Microgrid Engineering


“Microgrid Engineering” encompasses the development, integration, and validation of components and subsystems in flexible microgrid architectures for scalable and reliable electrical power distribution and management at the municipal as well as community level.

These subsystem technologies include fuel cells, electrolyzers, photovoltaics, small hydro and other renewable technologies along with integration of energy storage systems, building efficiency and power management. This work is an important element in the expansion and modernization of the electrical grid.

Core Research Areas

Development of simulation models

Energy consumption and, increasingly, power generation, especially in the use of solar and wind energy, are subjected to random, but mathematically describable regularities. Computer simulations enable us to better understand stochastic energy production and consumption and to properly scale and predict future energy supply networks. With the expansion of the electric grid via energy storage such as batteries and fuel cells / electrolyzer- combined units, networks can be flexibly constructed.

Cooperation with municipalities and cities

Analyses will be performed to characterize the current state of energy distribution in municipalities and cities. This information will enable informed decision-making about supply and demand across locales across the dimension of time and seasonality, making electricity more reliable. Optimization reduce costs to consumers as well as  increase the use of renewable energy sources to reduce carbon emissions. 

The partners have many years of expertise in the design of microgrids, so the best matching technologies for energy production and storage can be used. Analyses on the possible use of waste heat through co-and poly-generation are also performed.




Environmental Technology


“Environmental Technology” encompasses the development of materials, technologies, and systems for the efficient, safe, economical generation, conversion, transportation, and utilization of energy, especially bioenergy. Technologies and processes are also being developed for water and air purification.

These R&D activities include new materials for gas and liquid separation membranes, filtration and catalytic conversion, new manufacturing methods for membranes and catalysts, and procedural aspects of applying membranes and catalytic converters, especially for the purposes of process integration, chemical processing and production of biofuels such as biogas, bioethanol and biomethane. The integration of these technologies into existing technologies results in a significant increase in efficiency and offers new approaches for process development.

Core Research Areas

Reduction of CO2 emissions in combustion processes 

Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas emitted from combustion processes. Development of new, inorganic membranes for use at various locations in power plants (oxyfuel, pre-combustion, post-combustion) leads to a pure CO2 exhaust gas stream, which can be made harmless through precipitation.

Wastewater treatment and water purification

The development, application and implementation of effective and low-cost ceramic membranes for micro-, ultra-, and nanofiltration will be a core focus at Fraunhofer CEI.  Other development work is directed toward combining biological breakdown and membrane separation, as is done in membrane bioreactors.

Biogas generation from biogenic waste for decentralized power generation

Biogas is a sustainable alternative energy source because it is produced from renewable raw materials or biogenic waste materials. Fraunhofer CEI optimizes the entire process chain for biogas generation and utilization, from substrate treatment and fermentation to gas purification, conversion to electricity, and its storage.

Enhancement in chemical process technology

Thermal separation techniques as well as extraction and adsorption processes dominate chemical process technology. Research at Fraunhofer CEI is aimed at developing environmentally-friendly membrane processes. A particularly promising technology involves  the coupling of separation and reaction by membrane reactors.

Catalytic gas reactions

A large number of technological processes generate gas streams in the form of product gases and intermediate products (synthesis gas, nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, biogas, and wood gas) or volatile organic compound (VOC)-containing exhaust gases. For further processing, heterogeneous catalytic conversion using finely dispersed noble metals is often employed. Ceramic catalysts represent an interesting alternative, because their activity and selectivity can be adapted via the material composition, and the materials are significantly cheaper.