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Photo: DLR

Efficient Energy Conversion

Various research approaches are being pursued to raise the utilisation ratio of renewables and fossil energy sources: for example, the intelligent coupling of energy availability and usage through power and heat storage systems, mobile energy storage systems, heat transfer systems or synthetic fuels, dovetailing the various demand situations, such as co-generation of heat and power as well as work on thermo-chemical processes for processing non-conventional energy sources such as biomass to form higher-value fuels. The power stations and plants of the future must convert these various and different primary energy carriers as efficiently, as environmentally friendly and as reliably as possible into useful energy. This requires innovative boosts for components such as turbo machines and materials that are capable of resisting higher temperatures.

The CO2 separation from power stations calls for research on gas separation methods and the development of new concepts, since CO2 separation must not be achieved at the expense of a higher use of resources. In the medium term, solutions need to be developed which enable existing power stations to be retrofitted. The research goals in the field of fuel cells are to increase their lifetime and performance, to reduce the costs and to develop new processes and methods for analysing aging mechanisms and for quality assurance processes.

Research and development on superconducting components for power grids can contribute towards reducing the losses suffered when transmitting electrical energy. To make full use of stochastic energy flows, such as wind and sun, innovative concepts are needed for storing energy.


Manfred Aigner

German Aerospace Center