Our solutions for power engineering – An Interview with Thomas Weißgärber

Material innovations for a successful energy transition

The energy transition presents us with a multitude of challenges. Where do you see the greatest potential for Fraunhofer IFAM to make a decisive contribution using its know-how?

Innovations in materials and manufacturing technology are a key element in implementing the ambitious goals of the energy transition. Fraunhofer IFAM applies its expertise, for example, to solutions for hydrogen production and storage as well as in battery technology. Questions of waste heat utilization are answered, among other things, with innovative material approaches to heat storage. Our developments in soft magnetic alloys and corresponding new manufacturing technologies open up potential for the efficient use and conversion of energy, e. g. in drive technology.

Which developments at Fraunhofer IFAM do you consider to be particularly geared to the future?

The portfolio of developments that would have to be mentioned here is broad. But if I had to pick our one topic, it would be, electrolysis technology for hydrogen production and CO2 conversion. For example, our work on special current distributors for PEM electrolysis was recognized with the Otto von Guericke Award.

With which visions and projects will the institute continue to drive forward the energy transition in the future?

We will continue to intensify and expand the topics surrounding the generation, storage and use of green hydrogen. The resourceand cost-efficient production of parts and components for energy technology is a particular concern of mine, as is technology transfer to industry. We are currently working on issues relating to the sustainable use of resources in space. Making these technologies accessible for terrestrial use, e. g. for the production of metals, is a very long-term objective. The good thing is that powder metallurgy materials and production possibilities will always offer potential when it comes to the energy transition, and we want to take advantage of this.