On 16 May 2022, HZB received a delegation from the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI). Vice-Minister of Science Sergio Freitas de Almeida was visibly impressed by the many research activities being done at HZB to drive the transition to a climate-neutral energy supply in society forward.
The delegation visited HZB in advance of the 9th German–Brazilian Dialogue on Science, taking place from 17 to 20 May 2022 in Berlin. Vice-Minister Sergio Freitas de Almeida was accompanied by State Secretaries José Gontijo (Entrepreneurship and Innovation) and Marcelo Morales (Research and Scientific Training) along with other government representatives.
The delegation toured the X-ray source BESSY II which, of course, is also available to Brazilian researchers. The energy research laboratory EMIL and the new research platform for catalysis research CatLab were also on the tour programme. New catalysts are a key component for producing green hydrogen efficiently and cost-effectively, as well as alternative, sustainable fuels and green raw materials for the chemical industry. The interest of the Brazilian delegation in the development of hydrogen technologies was very high. They were also very interested in cooperation between their light source SIRIUS in Campinas (Sao Paolo) and BESSY II in Berlin.
The discussions with representatives of the Brazilian government inspired all participants to strengthen cooperation in the area of research.
Sunlight can be used to produce green hydrogen directly from water in photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells. So far, systems based on this "direct approach" have not been energetically competitive. However, the balance changes as soon as some of the hydrogen in such PEC cells is used in-situ for a catalytic hydrogenation reaction, resulting in the co-production of chemicals used in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. The energy payback time of photoelectrochemical "green" hydrogen production can be reduced dramatically, the study shows.
A further development in atomic force microscopy now makes it possible to simultaneously image the height profile of nanometre-fine structures as well as the electric current and the frictional force at solid-liquid interfaces. A team from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the Fritz Haber Institute (FHI) of the Max Planck Society has succeeded in analysing electrocatalytically active materials and gaining insights that will help optimise catalysts. The method is also potentially suitable for studying processes on battery electrodes, in photocatalysis or on active biomaterials.
For the past two years, Dr Renske van der Veen has led a research group in time-resolved X-ray spectroscopy and electron microscopy at HZB. Her research focuses on catalytic processes that enable, for example, the production of green hydrogen. She has now been appointed to a S-W2 professorship at the Institute of Optics and Atomic Physics (IOAP) at the Technische Universität Berlin.