The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has been cooperating with the research facilities of the US Department of Energy (DOE) on energy-related matters for more than 30 years. The DOE is responsible for energy and nuclear safety; it operates 17 major national research facilities dedicated to fundamental research in energy and science. DLR’s main cooperation partners are the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), with which it conducts major research collaborations and staff exchanges.
On 7 November 2019, Chris Fall, Director of the DOE Office of Science, visited the DLR site in Stuttgart, accompanied by a delegation. The US scientists attended talks and toured the laboratories and large-scale research facilities, where they learned about DLR’s current energy research projects.
At the DLR Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics, Fall was given an insight into work on energy storage and conversion. Among other things, DLR researchers are developing innovative technological approaches for the reliable, efficient and long-term storage of energy from renewable sources that is not needed immediately in the form of heat. The tour also included next-generation and future battery and fuel cell systems for mobile and stationary applications. One example of the projects presented to the delegation was HY4, a four-seater aircraft that offers quiet and emission-free electric flight with a combined fuel cell and battery-powered propulsion system. The Stuttgart-based researchers are also very active in the field of energy systems analysis, working together with the DLR Institute of Networked Energy Systems. They are examining the technical, structural and societal possibilities for a sustainable energy system, before using this as a basis to develop scenarios and action plans that pave the way for a cost-effective, secure and environment-friendly energy future.
The DLR Institute of Solar Research is developing concentrating solar systems in order to generate heat, power and fuels for a sustainable energy supply. In this case, DLR can look back at successful collaborations with NREL and SNL.
Innovative and flexible gas turbines were the focus of the last stop on their tour for Chris Fall and his delegation. Using the high-pressure combustion chamber test rigs and state-of-the-art measurement technology, researchers at the DLR Institute of Combustion Technology are developing burners and combustion systems for gas turbines such as those used in power plants or for flight operations. They are also developing forward-looking concepts for decentralised energy supply using micro gas turbines.