With 2021, a very changeable year is now drawing to a close. Due to the fact that we work in two hemispheres with the Sydney and Pfinztal sites, we had to continuously and alternately struggle with the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The year 2021 began with the emergence of the new delta variant and led to drastic restrictions and lockdowns in Germany, Europe and especially in countries in the northern hemisphere that extended into June. In particular, travel restrictions and workplace measures such as distance rules or home offices led to challenges regarding the implementation of existing projects and the acquisition of new projects. Reciprocal stays have of course been out of the question since the beginning of 2020. The onset of winter in Australia in turn led to tighter measures there from July onwards, including lockdowns until the beginning of November. Currently, UNSW return to campus is limited to essential staff and research students.. Furthermore, students who are overseas are starting to return Australia.
These are tentative attempts that may be hampered or even nullified, particularly by the emergence of what appears to be the much more infectious Omicron variant. Currently, drastic increases in infection are present in the Northern Hemisphere, which hopefully will not be similar with an onset of autumn in Australia.
Despite these adversities, further work has been carried out in CENELEST. This is particularly true of the SONAR project, which is developing models for finding new active materials for organic flow batteries, and the student NextGEN Vertically Integrated Project, for developing next-generation storage devices.
For SONAR, work had started this year at UNSW by a PhD student, which in the meantime has also led to very interesting results in the area of stack and system modelling.
In NextGEN , a student team is currently working on various sub-aspects of vanadium flow batteries. However, due to lockdown access to labs was limited, so experimental results can be expected next year.
In May, the Smart Energy Conference and Exhibition 2021 was held in Sydney under strict hygiene regulations. As in 2019, CENELEST was present with a booth, supported by the NextGEN students.
Several publications have been published in various journals, including interviews and a variety of presentations at online conferences around the world on a wide range of stationary energy storage topics with a focus on flow batteries.
Flow Batteries Europe (FBE) was founded at the beginning of the year. FBE sees itself as a lobby organisation for the interests of its members with regard to flow batteries. CENELEST is a founding member and represented in the Steering Committee.
Next year we hope to be able to return to normality. This concerns, on the one hand, the exchange of personnel and, on the other hand, the necessary performance of experimental work as well as teaching. We will again participate in numerous conferences worldwide and significantly increase our activities for the acquisition of third-party funding. We also hope that more international visits from industry to the Sydney location will be possible, so that new projects can possibly be created and carried out.
We now wish you a relaxing time and good health at the end of the year, as well as a good start into the new year 2022!
A/Prof. Dr. Chris Menictas AA/Prof. Dr. Jens Noack