German Study Prize for Insights into Lithium-Ion Cells

Every year, the Körber Foundation awards outstanding young scientists from all disciplines for excellent dissertations. This year Dr. Johannes Wandt of the Technical University of Munich will receive the prize in the field of natural and technical sciences. For his research on the aging process of lithium-ions and “post-lithium-ion cells”, he received the first prize of the German Study Prize, which is endowed with 25,000 euros.

At the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Dr. Wandt has researched how the service life of lithium batteries used in electric cars can be improved. The charging time of electric cars can range from 30 minutes to twelve hours. Unlike cars with internal combustion engines, whose tanks are filled within a few minutes, that’s a long time. But it is not only the charging time that is one of the biggest sticking points of electric mobility. The short range with one current charge is also problematic. Conventional cars still have a clear advantage here.

Lithium-ion versus lithium-air battery

In his doctoral thesis at the Chair of Technical Electrochemistry at TUM, the chemist Dr. Johannes Wandt investigated how the charging time of lithium-ion batteries can be reduced. In this context, he also investigated how the range of electric cars can be increased. To this end, he developed analytical methods that enable the chemical processes involved in charging and discharging lithium-ion cells to be investigated. Novel lithium-air batteries were also part of his doctoral thesis. Since their energy density is much higher than that of conventional lithium-ion batteries, the range of electric cars could be increased tenfold. They are also cheaper. However, as they only survive a few charging cycles at the moment, they are not yet in use. Dr. Wandt and a team of researchers discovered the cause. This lays the foundation for the development of long-lasting lithium-air batteries.

Dr. Wandt was awarded the German Study Prize, one of the highest endowed scientific prizes for young scientists in Germany. The patron of the Körber Foundation prize is Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble.

Photo: Körber Foundation