Institute for Renewable Energy Storage

In the near future, our energy system will be fundamentally different from what we have today. At TU/e, we are on the forefront of renewable energy storage and conversion research.
We work in close partnership with high-tech manufacturing partners on both fundamental and applied research.

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Radical transformation of the energy system is essential

Within the European Union, countries have committed to the Paris Agreement and hence will have to realize a substantial reduction in CO2-emissions in 2050 compared to 1990 levels. A reduction of such magnitude can only be achieved by radically replacing energy from fossil sources with renewable energy.

The road towards the replacement of fossil fuels starts with the substantial growth in offshore wind and solar photovoltaics capacity to produce ample amounts of affordable clean energy. This presents us with both opportunities and challenges. The expected decrease in electricity prices - as a result of increase in capacity - will enable decarbonization of energy-intensive sectors. These include heavy-duty transport and the chemical industry: a prerequisite for a low-carbon economy (VNCI roadmap 2050). However, renewable energy production is weather dependent, and supply and demand do not always coincide in time and place. 

Our approach to energy storage and conversion research 

To develop scalable and efficient electricity storage and conversion solutions, more fundamental and applied research is required. To ensure coherence and focus in research on these topics, TU/e established the Institute for Renewable Energy Storage (IRES). The IRES combines insights, expertise and knowledge from different disciplines, and from both fundamental and applied research in research programs that focus on energy transformation themes.
NWO institute DIFFER, located on the same campus in Eindhoven, is an important research partner and contributes its expertise on solar fuels. TU/e and DIFFER established a shared research group headed by Prof. René Janssen, and initiated the Center for Computation Energy Research (CCER). 

Creating CO2-neutral fuels through photo- and electrochemistry and -catalysis

Fuels used for transportation and feedstock account for a major part of Dutch energy consumption. If we want to decarbonize transportation and industry sectors, we will need to convert renewable energy to renewable circular
fuels. For instance, circularly produced liquid hydrocarbons can be used for heavy-duty transport and aviation, while chemicals can be used to replace fossil resources as feedstock and energy sources in the energy-intensive chemical industry.

We develop advanced technologies such as spinning-disc electrolysis, nanoscale catalysis, plasma conversion and CO2 capture from residual streams, biomass and air to create circular fuels. In the area of solar fuels, we cooperate closely with the Dutch Institute DIFFER.

The main topics covered by chemical conversion are:
+ CO2 capture: pre- and post-combustion carbon capture, direct air capture.
+ CO2 utilization including CO2 to gas and liquid fuels: renewable energy storage, power-2-gas, power-2-liquids.
+ Solar fuels: direct photocatalytic water splitting/CO2 reduction.
+ Electrofuels: electrocatalytic water splitting/CO2 reduction.
+ Chemical fuels: CO2/CO/N2 hydrogenation.
+ Biofuels: efficient conversion of biomass to fuels and chemicals.

Metal Fuels

Using metal powder as an alternative to fossil fuels: a unique solution to provide CO2 emissions free and circular back-up capacity and storage.

Metal fuels have a volumetric energy density that is higher than that of fuels such as liquid hydrocarbons. Moreover, they do not require compression or liquefaction, can be handled, transported and stored over long periods of time, and can be used as a completely CO2-free circular source of energy. This offers opportunities for both heavy-duty transportation, such as shipping and heavy road transport, and energy-intensive industrial processes, including coal-fired power plants.
At TU/e, we are convinced that metal fuels can replace fossil fuels with little or relatively small adaptations to existing infrastructures. We intend to demonstrate the technology at the relevant scale to provide breakthrough solutions for the energy transition.
For instance, by replacing coal-fired power plants with metal-fuels power plants, renewable backup production capacity for weather-dependent renewable energy sources can be created.
The main topics covered by Metal Fuels are:
+ Dry cycle metal combustion
+ Wet cycle metal-to-hydrogen and heat
+ Electrochemical metal oxide reduction
+ Thermochemical metal oxide reduction
+ Metal particle dispersion
+ Metal particle separation
+ Metal refining and fuel synthesis

Heat Storage

Sharing know-how on gas dynamics and porous media for breakthrough heat storage solutions.

In a renewable energy system, it is important to make optimal use of heat that is available through different sources. If we can use heat directly, this saves us conversion steps and thus energy. There are still many improvements possible in heat
harvesting and in reducing heat loss in process and storage. We focus on advancing heat and flow technologies and on developing safe and fast battery concepts for household and transportation purposes. In addition, we focus on materials that enable the achievement of significantly higher energy density targets.

Main topics covered by thermal heat storage include:
+ Thermal energy storage: development of thermochemical materials (TCMs) and systems for heat storage and harvesting for domestic applications.
+ GeoEnergy: use of the DAWN computer platform to model hydraulic fracturing for subsurface applications such as geothermal energy, CO2 sequestration and subsurface energy storage.
+ Gas for energy: improve LNG production by innovating gas pre-treatment steps, and hydrogen applications (fuel cells and turbines).