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Energy | 15. March 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 8 Comments

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

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 | 08. March 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 2 Comments

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

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

Other | 02. March 2010

@DLR_de: Interactions on Twitter during German Aerospace Day 2009

A380 beim Tag der Luft- und Raumfahrt 2009

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

Other | 01. March 2010 | posted by Jan Wörner | 1 Comment

Three years as Chairman of DLR – a challenge every day

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

Other | 01. March 2010 | posted by Jan Wörner

Aerospace technology – revolutionary or evolutionary?

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 | 01. March 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken

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

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

Energy | 22. February 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 5 Comments

Energy question of the week: How much electrical power can be harnessed from tides?

Under the influence of the Moon's gravity, the water of Earth's oceans rises and falls twice a day. Powerful forces are at work all over the globe between every low and high tide – forces that can be harnessed to generate electrical power. Just how mature is the technology and what is the potential that tidal power stations could unleash? read more

Energy | 15. February 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 5 Comments

Energy question of the week: are large hydroelectric power stations genuinely good for the environment?

After decades of planning, Belo Monte - the third largest hydroelectric power station in the world, will now be constructed in the Amazonas region of northern Brazil. When the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, IBAMA, approved the plan in early February, it was met with vociferous criticism from environmental conservationists and spokespersons for indigenous groups. So just how green are gigantic hydroelectric power stations really? read more

Space | 08. February 2010 | posted by Jan Wörner | 2 Comments

Kennedy Space Center; you can feel the breath and the tradition of spaceflight

I had planned to use the launch of the shuttle Endeavour with the European elements Node 3 and Cupola to intensify personal contacts with various participants in the space sector. The focus of our talks was on the current mission, of course, but they also addressed issues such as the procurement of Meteosat Third Generation and the Obama administration’s plan for space in the coming years, published a week ago. read more

Energy | 08. February 2010 | posted by Jan Oliver Löfken | 4 Comments

Energy question of the week: How does one turn a T-shirt into a power station?

Whenever the battery in a mobile phone, laptop or MP3 player goes flat, the desperate search for a power socket begins. A power source that everyone can carry with them at all times will provide more independence in the future – their own shirt. That your electronic equipment could ever be recharged by a piece of fabric does sound rather like a fairy tale. But is the 'T-shirt power station' really such an impossibility? read more