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Elena Borgardt

Doctoral researcher at the Institute for Energy and Climate Research – Electrochemical Process Engineering (IEK-14)

Elena Borgardt works at Forschungszentrum Jülich as a doctoral researcher in the field of low-temperature electrolysis. Her work involves analysing the extent to which the mechanical properties of electrolysis components can influence cell performance, as well as developing a way to design electrolysis stacks so that the components are not damaged.

What led you to Forschungszentrum Jülich?

While studying for my master’s degree in “Sustainable Energy Supply”, I attended a lecture course on “Fuel Cells” by Professor Stolten – the Head of the institute in the field of Energy and Climate Research (IEK) at Forschungszentrum Jülich. I already knew that I wanted to complete a PhD that contributes to the energy transition, but I hadn’t yet committed to any single area. In the first lecture, everything really “clicked” – the topic directly inspired me. The lecture course later gave us the opportunity to visit the research centre, and I really liked the atmosphere. That’s when I decided that I wanted to work at the IEK.

Elena BorgardtCopyright: Forschungszentrum Jülich / Ralf-Uwe Limbach

What do you like about your work at the Jülich Research Centre?

Working at Forschungszentrum Jülich gives me the opportunity to make my ideas happen. When planning and setting up test rigs, I can draw from the know-how of my colleagues who work in production. If I want to perform a test with equipment that is not available at my own institute, I can check whether any of the other institutes have what I need. And I’ve already benefited many times from the knowledge that is concentrated here into a small space. Experts from a diverse range of institutes have helped me to interpret my results. That’s what makes working at the research centre so special for me.

What does a typical working day look like for you?

My day-to-day activities vary a lot. Before performing an experiment, I collect ideas about its implementation. Then, I discuss the feasibility of these ideas with a technician. Next, depending on what exactly we’re doing, we might build the test rig, order parts, or design a missing component and send it to production. Once I’m satisfied with the planning, I proceed to perform the experiment. Often, the experiment then gives me inspiration for something new.