Electrochemists develop new battery materials, new solar panels, new fuel cells and many other useful products. But in order to produce something new and useful the researchers need to test their system with different variations. Countless variations. Testing the variations is time consuming and yet not very productive. There is only so much you can do, while sitting around waiting to change the parameters of the experiment.
Matthias Arenz is a professor at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, where he studies the efficiency and longevity of fuel cells. In order to liberate the creativity of students and colleagues his research group started to develop tools which would allow electrochemists to automate all the dull and repetitive tasks. The new product has been copyrighted, and the University of Copenhagen has recently licensed it to a new spin out company, "Nordic Electrochemistry"
The first products of the company are the software package EC4U and the modular potentiostat ECi-200. Together the two products are designed for complete ease of automatization.
Potentiostats are hardware units built to control electrochemical measurements. Because ECi-200 is modular, the collection of potentiostats can be expanded to control even the most complex of experiments.
The software package, EC4U, can control and synchronize the various hardware. From potentiostats, hotplates and timers over the injection of gasses and chemicals to weighing instruments and thermometers. This allows the researcher to programme an entire series of test runs, and then simply leave the lab to go do all the fun and creative stuff that usually inspire people to become scientists in the first place.
The first five EC4U installations have already been sold to foreign universities. The first customer was Hochschule München, a university for applied science in Germany. They have been using EC4U for more than six months and they are very happy with it.
"In tandem with the sophisticated analysis-software the automatization and control of external instruments has motivated my students to achieve better scientific results. The students have been capable of using EC4U and ECi-200 with little to no training, it's that intuitive. The equipment from Nordic Electrochemistry has allowed us to intuitively discover electrochemistry", says Viktorija Juhart, Hochschule München.
Nordic electrochemistry initially expects to service customers from universities in Denmark and abroad, but are hoping in time to help industrial enterprises engaging in boring and time consuming electrochemical research.