CELEST News


March 26th, 2019


Official Opening of the CELEST Research Platform and POLiS Battery Cluster of Excellence



Launch of the Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage Ulm & Karlsruhe (CELEST), one of the biggest German research and development platforms in the area of electrochemical energy storage. Together with guests from politics, research, and industry, KIT, Ulm University, and the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) celebrated the opening of the joint research platform and its first outstanding success: approval of the Cluster of Excellence on Post Lithium Storage (POLiS) within the Excellence Strategy launched by the federal and state governments.

Germany's largest electrochemical energy research platform was officially launched on Tuesday, March 26: At the Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage Ulm & Karlsruhe (CELEST), researchers from various disciplines are developing high-performance and environmentally friendly energy storage systems – which are urgently needed for a successful energy revolution and climate-friendly electric mobility. The platform was co-founded by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Ulm University, and the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW). State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Christian Luft, and Ministerial Director of the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg, Ulrich Steinbach, attended the inauguration ceremony at the Helmholtz Institute Ulm to honor the platform's first outstanding success: In the highly competitive Excellence Strategy of the federal and state governments the partners acquired Germany's only Cluster of Excellence in battery research. The multilocation Cluster of Excellence Post Lithium Storage (POLiS) receives funding of about 50 million euros for the next seven years.

(From left to right) Prof. Maximilian Fichtner (HIU, Director CELEST & POLiS), Prof. Holger Hanselka (President KIT), MD Ulrich Steinbach (Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts, Baden Württemberg), State Secretary Christian Luft (Federal Ministry of Education and Research), Dr. Margret Wohlfahrt-Mehrens (ZSW, CELEST, POLiS), Prof. Helmut Ehrenberg (KIT, CELEST, POLiS), Prof. Michael Weber (President Ulm University), Prof. Axel Groß (Ulm University, CELEST, POLiS)


State Secretary Christian Luft gave a welcoming speech at the opening ceremony where he emphasized the great importance of battery research in tackling current social challenges: 'Efficient energy storage systems are the key to securing future energy supply and mobility. In order to achieve this, we need new and cost-effective battery concepts that store more electricity, charge quickly, and are safe. I am delighted that CELEST and the Cluster of Excellence POLiS are contributing to this important task and the BMBF's umbrella concept of a "Battery Research Factory" with their foundational work.' (See press release of the BMBF here ).

Ministerial Director Ulrich Steinbach of the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg added: 'The state government of Baden-Württemberg recognized the strategic importance of battery technologies early on and supported them accordingly. The acquisition of the POLiS cluster, the activities in the FET Flagship Battery 2030+, and many other university projects in Baden-Württemberg demonstrate our strength in battery research. We have reserved further funding for this research field in the state budget. In this way, we will bring excellent research and industrial application even closer together.'

The inauguration ceremony for CELEST and POLiS was held at the Helmholtz Institute in Ulm (HIU): The HIU's inception in 2011 marked the beginning of the successful battery research collaboration between KIT, Ulm University, and ZSW. The CELEST research platform pools the competencies of 29 institutes and 45 working groups, embracing the entire chain from basic research to practical development and battery production. The platform's research foci 'lithium-ion technology,' 'energy storage beyond lithium,' and 'alternative technologies for electrochemical energy storage' cover all research topics relevant to electrochemical energy storage. Alongside with industrial collaborations and technology transfer, CELEST aims to promote young scientists and thus also offers a graduate school.

The founding partners KIT, Ulm University, and ZSW have traditionally been strong in battery research. The official launch of the CELEST research platform and the POLiS Cluster of Excellence is the next big step on the path to novel energy storage systems. 'The launch of CELEST marks a milestone in energy research and paves the way for the Battery 2030+European research initiative, where we strive to play a leading and internationally visible role in developing the technology for next-generation batteries together with research institutions from all over Europe. Energy research is a key focus at KIT. We are excited to combine our strengths and competencies with those of our partners in the best possible way with this new platform and our joint Cluster of Excellence,' said Professor Holger Hanselka, President of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

His counterpart Professor Michael Weber, President of Ulm University, also views the new platform as an excellent addition to the research environment of the Science City Ulm: 'Basic electrochemical research has been a tradition at Ulm University since the 1980s. Today, the University, the Helmholtz Institute Ulm, and the ZSW cover the entire development chain of battery research in the Science City Ulm. These activities lead to the CELEST research platform, which was co-founded with the KIT and realized the outstanding achievement of acquiring the Cluster of Excellence,' said Professor Weber. Within the POLiS Cluster of Excellence scientists in Ulm and Karlsruhe are conducting research into novel, powerful, and sustainable battery technologies. Unlike many batteries that power laptops, smartphones or electric cars today, these future energy storage devices are designed to work without the use of the finite elements lithium and cobalt.

The Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg builds the main bridge to practical application: 'Our contribution to the activities of CELEST and POLiS are 30 years of experience in applied battery research plus Europe's biggest research platform for the industrial production of large lithium-ion cells,' explained Dr. Margret Wohlfahrt-Mehrens, who heads the Electrochemical Energies Technologies Division of the ZSW and the POLiS research unit.

Jürgen Klotz (SWR, leftmost) guided through the panel discussion with the leading scientists during the opening ceremony.


At the opening ceremony, researchers from Karlsruhe and Ulm provided insights into their scientific work and presented their new battery research platform and Cluster of Excellence during a panel discussion. 'The sites in Ulm and Karlsruhe cover the entire spectrum of battery research – from exper-imental basic research of atomic-scale elementary processes to multi-scale modeling of relevant processes and the development of new storage materials and laboratory cells. CELEST bundles this expertise that goes all the way to near-series production of large battery cells at the ZSW', explained Professor Maximilian Fichtner, director of the new platform and spokesman of the POLiS Cluster of Excellence. 'The CELEST initiative makes us one of the world's largest players in battery research. CELEST has already started to radiate its appeal – substantiated by its success in the Excellence Strategy as well as numerous industry requests for collaboration,' the deputy director of the HIU continued.



After the celebration, the guests had the opportunity to experience battery research first hand: The laboratories of the Helmholtz Institute Ulm and the ZSW Laboratory for Battery Technology (eLaB) opened their doors and offered guided tours.

Find more photos of the event here.

See press release of the partners UUlm , KIT and ZSW.

Photo Credit: (Heiko Grandel, Elvira Eberhard)

February 7th, 2019


New Cluster of Excellence Holds First General Assembly




The 25 research group leaders and other responsible persons of the new cluster of excellence, which bears the name POLiS (Post Lithium Storage), met at HIU to set the course for a fast and successful start of the research work. Prof. Joachim Ankerhold, Vice President of the Ulm University, emphasized in his welcoming address how well the two locations Ulm and Karlsruhe complement each other in their specializations in battery research and highlighted the HIU as the first successful example. Prof. Maximilian Fichtner, who was elected spokesperson of the cluster of excellence, reminded the audience that of a total of five applications from battery research, only the POLiS application survived the first round of applications. Due to the large number of research groups and new projects, the cluster employees will move into a new research building on the campus of the Ulm University in March.
The cluster's research concentrates on so-called post lithium batteries, i.e. batteries that run completely without lithium. One reason for this is that the maximum storage capacity of conventional lithium-ion batteries is nearly reached. Also, the extraction of the constituents - such as cobalt, graphite, and lithium - carries political, environmental and economic risks. A scarcity of resources and the uncertain political situations of some countries with large repositories could lead to supply disruptions. Also in many cases, the extraction of e.g. cobalt is associated with high environmental impact. In order to achieve progress in performance and make batteries more­ sustainable, the development of new, alternative storage materials and concepts must be driven forward. The cluster's electrochemists, materials scientists and modellers are studying sodium, magnesium and aluminium as alternative charge carriers. The aim is to cover the entire development chain of a battery, from basic material research to technology transfer.
At the end of September last year, the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Anja Karliczek, approved the joint application for a cluster of excellence of the CELEST partners Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the University of Ulm, together with the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) and the University of Gießen. A first extraordinary success for the new research platform CELEST.


January 1st, 2019


Cluster of Excellence started



The Cluster of Excellence POLiS , Post Lithium Energy Storage of KIT and UUlm investigates a new generation of post-Li electrochemical energy storage systems for stationary and mobile applications, which overcome the limitations of current battery technology. The Cluster officially started in January 2019 and will run over 7 years. The Cluster of Excellence is a major activity in the Post-Li sector in CELEST.



September 27th, 2018


Joint KIT/UUlm cluster proposal “Energy storage beyond lithium” successful in the German excellence strategy



The German excellence commission ( To the press release ) announced the decision for the clusters of excellence within Germany’s excellence strategy on September 27th. The excellence commission selected the joint cluster proposal of KIT and UUlm “Energy storage beyond lithium” from the overall 88 submitted proposals to be funded starting from January 2019. The project involves the two applicant universities KIT ( To the press release ) and UUlm ( To the press release ), and the ZSW and the Justus Liebig University Giessen ( To the press release ) as further participating institutions. Therefore, all three CELEST partners are active contributors to the successful proposal. The cluster will run for 7 years, with an option on a second funding period, providing the possibility for strategic fundamental research on energy storage beyond lithium. The successful cluster decision will boost the electrochemical energy storage research at the two campuses and further strengthen the collaboration between researchers at the contributing institutions. CELEST, which is a corner stone of the long-term cooperation between the partners in the field of electrochemical energy storage, will now provide the platform for a fruitful activity of the cluster. The new cluster of excellence has a prominent position in the CELEST research profile, as one of the three CELEST research fields is the quest for new materials and novel electrochemical energy storage solutions reaching beyond todays Lithium based technologies. Research in the cluster will not only be dedicated to fundamental aspects of Post-Li batteries, but will also bridge towards development and technology transfer, profiting from the network of CELEST industry collaborations. CELEST congratulates all contributing scientists to their outstanding success, thanking them for their scientific dedication and perseverance in the course of the application.











August 15th, 2018


The three CELEST partners KIT, UUlm and ZSW today published a joint press release announcing the startup of the new research platform. The partners highlight the goals of CELEST and the importance and significance of the new platform, which is the largest in the area of electrochemical energy storage in Germany, is illustrated.

    To the press release

    To the press release

    To the press release





July 12th, 2018


CELEST Kick-off meeting at HIU in Ulm





The Kick-off meeting of CELEST and the first general assembly of its members took place at the HIU, Ulm. The CELEST members elected the spokespersons of the three research areas, actively discussed joint projects and decided on future activities and strategies for the research platform. The CELEST steering committee nominated Prof. Dr. Maximilian Fichtner as director of CELEST and Prof. Dr. Helmut Ehrenberg as deputy director of the center. The meeting laid a strong foundation for fruitful collaboration and impressively illustrated the broad range of scientific competences gathered among the CELEST members, paving the way for new joint endeavors in electrochemical energy storage.










January 1st, 2018


      The Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage Ulm-Karlsruhe (CELEST) has been founded by KIT, UUL and ZSW.


September 29th, 2017


      Joint excellence strategy of HIU, UUlm and KIT goes into second round

In the framework of the German 'Excellence Strategy' of the Federal Government and the States, a proposal about 'Energy Storage Beyond Lithium' has been successful in the first round.
The proposal is co-ordinated by researchers from Helmholtz-Institute Ulm (HIU) together with colleagues from Ulm University and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and comprises future activities in 25 working groups in Ulm, Karlsruhe and Gießen. Starting point and nucleus of the effort are the very successful activities at HIU on post-Li systems, which have gained high international visibility and recognition. If the second round of selection is also successful, the work can start in January 2019.

Top News


26.03.2019


CELEST and POLiS Kick-off at the HIU

The festive opening ceremony of the Center of Electrochemical Energy Storage took place in the presence of representatives of politics, academia, press and industry at the HIU. CELEST celebrates the Kick-off of the Cluster of Excellence POLiS Post-Lithium Energy Storage ( www.postlithiumstorage.org ).



Read more in the NEWS section.