International Significance of Sustainable Surface TechnologyAalen professor part of an international collaboration with South Korea

German-Korean research friendship: Group picture of the workshop on sustainable electrodeposition processes in Ilmenau. Photo: © Aalen University | Phillip Scherzl

Mo, 14. November 2022

Sustainability, energy efficiency and resource conservation are challenges that increasingly preoccupy our society. To address them and find solutions, we need to collaborate globally. For this reason, the German Research Foundation (DFG) supports international research collaborations and their establishment. Under the leadership of the Technical University (TU) Ilmenau and Prof. Dr. Andreas Bund, an initial exchange took place with specialist colleagues from South Korea, in which Prof. Dr. Timo Sörgel of Aalen University also participated.

As part of the annual meeting of the German Surface Technology Association (ZVO), a delegation of Korean surface and electrodeposition technology researchers came to Germany in September to identify joint research topics and develop project ideas in a workshop. In addition to the Korean delegation, the organizers from the Technical University of Ilmenau as well as representatives from the German Society for Surface Technology (DGO), Aalen University and the Research Institute for Precious Metals and Metal Chemistry (fem) Schwäbisch-Gmünd all took part.

"Electrodeposition is an established cross-sectional technology in all technical fields, which offers a very large potential for solutions to many problems of our time," explains Prof. Dr. Timo Sörgel. However, it is precisely this great need that also demands that the processes themselves be made even more sustainable. For example, restrictions on the use of some chemical compounds are becoming tighter and work is being conducted on wastewater-free processes with maximum material recycling. "Aspects of sustainability and recyclable electroplating are also playing an increasingly important role in teaching," emphasizes Prof. Sörgel. He is not only head of the university's Center for Electrochemical Surface Engineering (ZEO), but also project manager in the university's SmartPro network. In both functions, he also actively researches the topics of energy storage and sustainability.

Following the ZVO Surface Days, a workshop was held in Ilmenau to explore possible research collaborations between the German and South Korean research institutions. Participants came from the TU Ilmenau, fem, DGO as well as ZEO. Special attention was paid to the trend topics of electromobility, energy storage and conversion, sustainability and digitalization – topics that also concern SmartPro researchers. For example, the application of electroplated coatings on connectors and lightweight materials for electric cars were discussed and so were components for electrolysers and fuel cells. "The workshop showed that similar topics are occupying us worldwide and what a significant role electrodeposition technology can play in the future," emphasized Phillip Scherzl, ZEO staff member. Thus, a wide range of opportunities has opened up for the industry.

Korean-German Workshop in Incheon/South Korea

Already in June, a Korean-German workshop on "Sustainable Electrodeposition Processes" took place in Incheon/South Korea, funded by the DFG, the National Research Foundation of Korea, the Korea Institute of Materials Science and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology of the TU Ilmenau. This workshop was connected to the annual meeting of the Korea Institute of Surface Engineering (KISE) at Inha University. Prof. Sörgel had the opportunity to present the composite electroforming process for the production of high-performance battery electrodes developed in his research group and patented by Aalen University there to an interested South Korean audience of experts.