Technical Electrolysis and Geothermal Energy


Fraunhofer IKTS designs and develops electrolysis processes. Furthermore, they can be tested in laboratory and pilot-plant scale and transferred to industrial scale. Applications include the treatment of contaminated wastewater and process water from mining, industrial and power generation processes, the recovery of raw materials as well as corrosion and scaling in geothermal plants.

We have modern measurement technology and self-developed electrolysis cells from laboratory to pilot-plant scale. In our technical test facility in Rainitza, water treatment processes can be tested on a pilot scale in industrial electrolysis cells. For exposure tests and electrochemical in-situ investigations in deep geothermal energy, we have, among other things, a TÜV-approved mobile test stand.


Electrolysis processes

© Fraunhofer IKTS
Technical pilot plant for the electrochemical water treatment.

For the treatment of contaminated waters, we can offer the following solutions:

  • Electrochemical treatment of mining and pit waters (simultaneous sulfate separation, heavy metal elimination, neutralization and generation of buffer capacity, conversion of sulfate into valuable substances)
  • Electrochemical total oxidation of persistent chemical compounds (nitroaromatics, CHCs, endocrine substances)
  • Destruction/elimination of radioactive substances in waste water and residues
  • Recovery of special and precious metals from scrap and process solutions
  • Recovery and purification/separation of rare earths
  • In-situ processes for the separation of As, U or CHCs from ground water

Services offered

  • Process development for pollutant separation/destruction and valuable material recovery
  • Development and production of specific electrolysis cells and experimental equipment
  • Execution of design investigations on electrolysis cells (current density distribution, residence time, operating mode/reactor model)
  • Design, planning, construction, set-up and operation of experimental plants up to technical pilot scale
  • Testing of electrode materials, investigation of electrode processes in complex media, determination of kinetic parameters
  • Development of specific redox-active iron-based active masses for in-situ applications
  • Process optimization, balancing
  • Radiotracer investigations
  • Economic feasibility studies

Deep geothermal energy

© Fraunhofer IKTS
Mobile test stand for exposition and online monitoring in geothermal fluids.

In order to prevent frequently observed corrosion and scaling phenomena and to keep maintenance and downtimes as low as possible, it is necessary to select suitable materials and plant designs as well as to electrochemically condition the thermal waters, if necessary.

Fraunhofer IKTS has extensive competencies in investigating the causes for corrosion and scaling. According to the specific requirements we select the appropriate materials and develop processes for the treatment of thermal waters using electrodeposited layer systems and the advantageous properties of nanodiamonds. Thermal brines are also of interest from a material point of view, as they often contain rare chemical elements that are difficult to obtain elsewhere. Therefore, we also develop processes for the extraction of raw materials from such non-conventional raw material sources.

Services offered

  • Consulting on materials issues, materials specification for complete plants or complex assemblies
  • Support during plant inspections and in the assessment of damage cases
  • Investigation of corrosion processes and scaling phenomena by means of exposure tests and electrochemical in-situ measurements
  • Process development for raw material recovery and to avoid scaling
  • Development of functional coatings for corrosion protection
  • Analysis of scaling and thermal fluids

Current research

Water-saving production of soda using electrochemical membrane processes

Current research

Underground testing facility for arsenic and fluoride removal from mine water

Current research

Comparison of methods for herbicide removal from drinking water in pilot scale