Energy Blog

Energy question of the week: How can coal be converted into liquid fuel?

29.03.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

When oil becomes scarce, fuel for aircraft and cars will have to be produced from other sources. Since Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch invented the Fischer-Tropsch process in 1925, synthetic fuels can also be derived indirectly from coal. Countries with large coal deposits, such as South Africa and China, make extensive use of this process. But how does the process work? read more

Alan Bean, Gasometer Oberhausen

The fourth man on the Moon — an experience that lasts forever

26.03.2010 | posted by Jan Wörner

On 24 March 2010, Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the Moon as part of the Apollo programme, visited the Gasometer in Oberhausen. Apart from the personal encounter (it was my third meeting with an Apollo astronaut, and they have always impressed me), I had the chance to be in the presence of an enthusiastic and motivating witness to an incredible pioneering feat, someone whose lecture revealed far more than a just report of an extraordinary mission. read more

Energy question of the week: Has the Emirate of Abu Dhabi overreached itself with its 'Zero Emission City' of Masdar City?

22.03.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

By 2016, the world's first climate-neutral city - Masdar City - is set to emerge from the sands of the Arabian desert. By that date, 50,000 people in Masdar City should be able to meet their energy needs from solar power stations, to move between their 'intelligent-design' houses in electrically-powered cars, and to recycle all their household waste. Nevertheless, isolated cases of Masdar managers resigning their posts are starting to fuel rumours that this ambitious project may, quite literally, be running itself back into the sand. Were the goals of this 22-billion-dollar project perhaps set too high? read more

Energy question of the week: Can lasers unleash the Sun's power to create a fusion reactor?

15.03.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

Low-cost, safe, climate-friendly and inexhaustible – many energy experts view nuclear fusion as the power source of the future. Having said that, scientists believe that it will take another 40 to 50 years before the first fusion power station is in operation. Hot plasma, trapped within a strong magnetic field is currently the most promising way forward, and Europeans in particular are focusing on this concept. However, might it not be much simpler and quicker to find a way to unleash the fire of the Sun by means of powerful lasers that American physicists are working with? read more

Energy question of the week: What makes a power grid intelligent?

08.03.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

A closely-interconnected grid of power lines and wires 1.7 million kilometres in length and running from power stations to wall sockets delivers a reliable power supply throughout Germany. It has evolved and been maintained over decades, extended in leaps and bounds, and virtually no-one gives any real thought to the interplay between generator and consumer, power frequency and high voltages, sub-stations and transformers. Now, in response to the rising proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources, the term Smart Grid (the 'intelligent' power grid) is now coming into common parlance. Was, and is, our existing power grid really so 'dumb'? read more

A380 beim Tag der Luft- und Raumfahrt 2009

@DLR_de: Interactions on Twitter during German Aerospace Day 2009

02.03.2010 | posted by Henning Krause

The DLR Web Portal is indeed the most important tool in our online communication arsenal. Nevertheless, here at DLR Communication, over the last few years we have realised that we are not able to reach all potential communication partners on this platform. Therefore, we decided to go where those people were, for example, to the social media portals. We are also fully aware of the fact that communication is not a one-way street. We want to be contactable, to open a channel for feedback and to respond to what we are told. Twitter is an ideal medium for that purpose. read more

Three years as Chairman of DLR – a challenge every day

01.03.2010 | posted by Jan Wörner

On 1 March 2007, I assumed the post of Chairman of the Management Board of the German Aerospace Center, DLR, and in doing so, embarked upon a personal change in career of unimagined and unexpected magnitude. The first three of five years in this post are now behind me and it is time to do something akin to drawing up a personal balance sheet, to prepare myself for the decisions and developments required in the future. read more

Aerospace technology – revolutionary or evolutionary?

01.03.2010 | posted by Jan Wörner

At the Science and Technology Day at the Berlin-Brandenburg Science Academy (Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften; BBAW), lectures were given on the subject of development in nature and technology. I was invited to present a paper dealing with evolution and revolution in aerospace technologies. This was, as my preparation showed me, a very exciting challenge indeed … read more

Energy question of the week: How can electricity be generated from hydrogen?

01.03.2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

Fuel cells are surely the most elegant way of converting energy-rich fuels into electricity without emitting any carbon dioxide or other exhaust gases if hydrogen is the type of fuel used. Back in 1838, the German-Swiss chemist Christian Friedrich Schönbein successfully generated an electrical voltage from hydrogen and oxygen for the first time, using two platinum wires to accomplish this feat. Since then, many different types of fuel cells have been developed to a commercially marketable standard. What underlying principle do they all have in common? read more