Helmholtz Joint Lab for Polymers in Energy Applications
Polymer materials offer a vast, largely unexplored parameter space for tunable properties. They can play a central role in the mitigation of climate change by enabling energy technologies with high efficiency, scalability, low-cost, sustainable production as well as unique features such as mechanical flexibility and self-healing.
The Helmholtz Joint Lab for Polymers in Energy Applications (HIPOLE) started in 2020, as a collaboration between HZB and Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU Jena). The inter-faculty Center for Energy and Environmental Chemistry Jena (CEEC Jena) at the FSU Jena is internationally renowned in the field of polymer chemistry for energy storage and conversion. This makes FSU Jena and HZB perfectly complementary partners, as illustrated in the figure here.
The Joint Lab specifically focuses on the design and fabrication of polymer-based batteries at CEEC Jena and their advanced characterization at HZB.
Complementary elements of HIPOLE's scientific concept.
Recently, scientists of the Joint Lab studied polymer-based electrodes and were the first to quantitatively characterize their 3D microstructure, which is a key factor for the electrical performance of battery cells. Synchrotron X-ray tomography was combined with statistical image analysis.
In another collaborative work, factors limiting the energy density of sodium-ion batteries was investigated. The storage of sodium in the anode was explored with complementary expertise such as:
- The successful fabrication of polymeric carbon nitride (p-C3N4) of varying microporosity
- small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) measurements. High storage capacity at a low potential
is only possible, when suitable, sealed pores are present.
The scientists of the Joint Lab at the CEEC Jena are funded by the Thuringian Ministry of Economics, Science and Digital Society (TMWWDG) for three years.
Since 2020, HZB and the FSU Jena are also cooperating within the framework of the priority program titled ‘Polymer-based Batteries’ (SPP 2248) of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) in a total of seven sub-projects.
Building on the developments from the Joint Lab, FSU Jena and HZB will continue to collaborate to pursue a novel, targeted approach on polymer materials for energy applications. The figure here summarizes the envisioned ecosystem for the mitigation of climate change. The central goal will be the knowledge-based creation of innovative polymer materials for novel, scalable, and sustainable energy technologies.
Future ecosystem of polymers to be developed at HIPOLE contributing to a sustainable carbon-neutral society. All focus areas are aligned with those of the Helmholtz program, 'Materials and Technologies for the Energy Transition'.
The scope of the collaboration will be expanded to include the following research areas:
- Polymer redox flow batteries
- Polymer-based thin-film batteries
- Multijunction photovoltaics
- Functional Self-healing Materials
- Sustainable Chemistry
 Muench, S., Burges, R., Lex-Balducci, A., Brendel, J. C., Jäger, M., Friebe, C., ... & Schubert, U. S. (2020). Printable ionic liquid-based gel polymer electrolytes for solid state all-organic batteries. Energy Storage Materials, 25, 750-755. DOI: 10.1016/j.ensm.2019.09.011
 Neumann, M., Ademmer, M., Osenberg, M., Hilger, A., Wilde, F., Muench, S., ... & Schmidt, V. (2022). 3D microstructure characterization of polymer battery electrodes by statistical image analysis based on synchrotron X-ray tomography. Journal of Power Sources, 542, 231783. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2022.231783.
 Schutjajew, K., Giusto, P., Härk, E., & Oschatz, M. (2021). Preparation of hard carbon/carbon nitride nanocomposites by chemical vapor
deposition to reveal the impact of open and closed porosity on sodium storage. Carbon, 185, 697-708. DOI: 10.1016/j.carbon.2021.09.051
 Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Priority Programme „Polymer-based Batteries“ (SPP 2248).