Space weather research will be intensified and an early warning system for the protection of terrestrial infrastructures will be developed. Heat storage on a power plant scale is set to become the basis for a low-carbon energy system. Highly automated, unmanned aircraft systems – from flexible and efficient freight transporters to swarms of 'flying eyes' – support the logistics sector and assist disaster relief workers in crisis regions.
Research, industry and politics have big plans. At its 2019 Annual Reception, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) presented three of its seven recently founded institutes and facilities and their research and technology topics to around 240 guests. In conjunction with the Federal State of Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania, DLR invited representatives of the European Parliament and the states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony to Brussels on 9 July 2019.
The Chair of the DLR Executive Board, Pascale Ehrenfreund, opened the evening event and outlined how DLR has developed over recent years. "With the establishment of the new institutes, we are implementing our 2030 Strategy and aligning our research even more closely with important global challenges," she said, explaining the idea behind DLR's expansion.
Three of DLR’s seven new DLR institutes will be set up in eastern German federal states. Lorenz Caffier, State Minister of the Interior and Deputy Minister-President Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, said: "DLR is a world-class research institution. As such, I am delighted that they have opted for locations in Neustrelitz, Cochstedt, Görlitz and Zittau." He further emphasised the importance of strengthening rural economies and enhancing these regions' appeal as places for professionals to live and work.
In view of ongoing preparations for the next EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation – Horizon Europe – the MEPs in attendance stressed the importance of such beacons of research in maintaining the competitiveness of German industry and small and medium-sized enterprises within Europe. The European Parliament is strongly committed to providing Horizon Europe with the budget it needs for this purpose.
Research into space weather, the decarbonisation of industry and unmanned aerial systems
The Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics will mark the expansion of the existing DLR site at Neustrelitz, where scientists are conducting research into the interactions between the Sun and Earth. It is clear that solar flares have a major impact on Earth’s magnetic field. Cycles of solar activity merit closer investigation in order to make quick predictions and develop countermeasures in the case of disruption to navigation and radio signals.
In future, DLR will be working in Cottbus and Zittau on decoupling the generation and supply of energy from coal to meet the huge demands of energy by industry. Energy researchers at the Institute of Low-Carbon Industrial Processes will continue their work on the concept of 'a third life for coal-fired power plants', among other areas. Conventional power plants are set to 'live on' as thermal storage power plants, and will therefore help to decarbonise even energy-intensive industrial processes such as steel production. One key aspect in this effort will be the development of technology to enable the use of high-temperature heat pumps on a power plant scale.
DLR is setting up the National Experimental Test Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems at the former site of Cochstedt Airport. The choice of 'Unmanned Aircraft Systems' as part of the name was no coincidence, as the scientists at Cochstedt will be conducting research into more than just flight and control functions for aerial vehicles, or drones. Instead, their work will look at the whole system, which includes not only testing and certification but also areas such as cyber security, noise measurement and societal acceptance.