The Budget Committee of the German Federal Government has approved 42 million euro in funding to establish six new institutes within the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR).
"This decision demonstrates the immense trust of the German government in DLR's performance and excellence. I would like to thank the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy in particular for its support," says Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board. "The consequent expansion of its research portfolio will allow DLR to further contribute to resolving global challenges in the areas of aeronautics, space, energy and security, and to continue strengthening Germany's position as an economic centre and a hub of science."
The new institutes in Hamburg, Dresden and Augsburg will expand the research conducted by DLR in the area of aviation, while the work in Jena will focus on the field of big data and smart data beyond aerospace itself. The new facility in Oldenburg will concentrate on energy research, and the interdisciplinary issue of security will be studied in the Bremerhaven facility. The new institutes will be established in cooperation with the Federal States and integrated at their locations within the local and regional research networks according to their specific scientific focus.
Aviation institutes for virtual aircraft, Industry 4.0 and digitalisation
The new aviation institutes in Hamburg, Saxony and Bavaria will focus on 'virtual aircraft' – one of the key factors in safeguarding the competitiveness of the German aviation sector and its supplier industry. Numerical simulation methods for new aircraft will enable virtual testing and hence faster and less risky introduction of new aviation technologies. Moreover, processes within Industry 4.0 – combined with the gradual digitisation of aviation – require an increasing vertical and horizontal networking of all procedures. Aviation researchers in Hamburg will be tasked with exploring two areas of scientific interest – new maintenance and repair concepts, as well as system architectures for aviation. The new institute in Dresden will engage in strategic platform research and development to support virtual system capability within the German aviation sector in the areas of hardware, software and application systems.
The planned institute in Augsburg will establish computer-assisted, structural-mechanical simulation as a basis for the development of high-performance components in new engines. The simulation tools developed by the institute will be integrated within the DLR-wide 'Virtual Engine' simulation platform. The three new facilities will hence complement the strategic focus on 'virtual aircraft' in DLR's aeronautics research.
Aerospace institute for the interdisciplinary topic of 'big and smart data'
The planned new DLR Institute in Jena will conduct space research as an interdisciplinary centre of excellence and knowledge for the socially relevant, interdisciplinary topic of big and smart data. This institute will develop synergies with the universities and industrial sector in Thuringia to develop concepts for the management, integration and multidisciplinary processing, analysis and preparation of large data volumes. Moreover, the institute will investigate the digital transformation process by contributing to Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things and other relevant issues.
Maritime safety in Bremerhaven
The planned new DLR Institute of Maritime Safety in Bremerhaven will be given the task of conducting research into the protection and safety of maritime infrastructure, including offshore wind farms. There is currently no facility or institution in Germany that focuses comprehensively on the protection and safety of these infrastructures from a research perspective, and that also takes into account private and public sector requirements. On the basis of DLR's interdisciplinary approach, issues such as cyberspace security or information fusion and management will be established in order to design comprehensive security concepts with, and in particular through the work of the already established DLR research centres.
System integration and energy management in Oldenburg
Currently operating in Oldenburg, the NEXT ENERGY institute has been earmarked for integration within DLR's energy research activities. The topics that the institute addresses complement DLR's portfolio very well. They include system integration and energy management for urban systems. The institute will cooperate closely with other DLR facilities. Precise knowledge of how the various components of the energy system interact and how they can be optimised will be crucial to the ongoing implementation of the energy transition to include larger proportions of renewable energies. A particular focus will be placed on the integration of various storage technologies and so-called sectoral coupling – the interconnection of energy, mobility and industry, as well as electricity, heat and fuel. Here, thanks to the synergy between its integrative research priorities, DLR is in a position to make a unique contribution.