Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg

Fraunhofer ISE, Photo: Guido Kirsch

With a staff of 1,300 the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, based in Freiburg, is the largest solar energy research institute in Europe.

Fraunhofer ISE is committed to promoting energy supply systems that are sustainable, economic, safe, and socially just. The institute creates the technological foundations for supplying energy efficiently and with an environmentally sound basis in industrialized, threshold, and developing countries. To this end, the institute develops materials, components, systems, and processes for energy efficiency, energy conversion, energy distribution, and energy storage. Areas of business include: Energy Efficient Buildings, Silicon Photovoltaics, III-V and Concentrator Photovoltaics, Dye, Organic and Novel Solar Cells, Photovoltaic Modules and Power Plants, Solar Thermal Technology, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology, System Integration and Grids – Electricity, Heat, Gas, Energy Efficient Power Electronics, Zero-Emission Mobility, Storage Technologies, and Energy System Analysis. Fraunhofer ISE also offers related testing and certification services to clients. The Institute is a member of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization.

During their visit, the Green Talents will primarily concentrate on the business areas of “Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology” and “Solar Thermal Technology”.

In the business area Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology, one focus is on Fuel Cell Systems, with research in Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells. To increase performance and durability of these cells, it is important to understand the complex electrochemical processes that couple with the fluid dynamics occurring in the cell. Therefore, ISE uses the current mapping technique combined with spatially resolved impedance measurement to decompose local homogeneities. The Green Talents will see and learn what fuel cells look like, how they are working theoretically, and how they will work realistically in the lab. Together with an engineer, they will operate a segmented cell and study the impact of different operating conditions.

Concentrating Solar Collectors reflect direct solar radiation onto an absorber to produce steam, either directly or indirectly. This is then used as industrial process steam or converted into electricity by a power plant unit. In addition to cost efficiency, the geometric arrangement and optics, as well as thermal losses and temperatures, must be taken into account when optimizing collectors. To achieve this, ISE uses optical and thermal simulation tools and combine theoretical models with measurements taken from components and collectors. The awardees will see and learn what different concentrating solar collector types and their components look like by descriptive explanations, a visit to the lab, and models exhibited. Together with a researcher, they will measure the shape accuracy of a solar mirror and study the impact of optical errors on the collector’s efficiency.