28. May 2021
Research for the decarbonisation of shipping

DLR opens In­sti­tute of Mar­itime En­er­gy Sys­tems in Geesthacht

Digital twin
Dig­i­tal twin
Image 1/7, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Digital twin

A vir­tu­al ship com­ple­ments the re­search. With the 'dig­i­tal twin', tests are al­so pos­si­ble in thresh­old con­di­tions.
Virtual opening
Vir­tu­al open­ing
Image 2/7, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

Virtual opening

Full speed ahead: With a sym­bol­ic ma­chine tele­graph, the DLR In­sti­tute of Mar­itime En­er­gy Sys­tems at its Geesthacht site was opened by (top, from left): Nor­bert Brack­mann (Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment Co­or­di­na­tor for the Mar­itime In­dus­try), Anke Kaysser-Pyza­l­la (Chair of the DLR Ex­ec­u­tive Board), Oliv­er Grun­dei (State Sec­re­tary for Sci­ence and Cul­ture in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, Sci­ence and Cul­ture of the State of Schleswig-Hol­stein), (bot­tom, from left) Thi­lo Rohlfs (State Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of Eco­nomics, Trans­port, Labour, Tech­nol­o­gy and Tourism of the State of Schleswig-Hol­stein), Alexan­der Dy­ck (Act­ing Di­rec­tor of the DLR In­sti­tute of Mar­itime En­er­gy Sys­tems), Karsten Lem­mer (Mem­ber of the DLR Ex­ec­u­tive Board for In­no­va­tion, Trans­fer and Sci­en­tif­ic In­fras­truc­ture) and Thorsten Her­dan (Head of De­part­ment II En­er­gy Pol­i­cy, Ger­man Fed­er­al Min­istry for Eco­nom­ic Af­fairs and En­er­gy).
Port scene
Port scene
Image 3/7, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Port scene

A fu­ture port free from pol­lu­tant emis­sions: Among oth­er things, the In­sti­tute of Mar­itime En­er­gy Sys­tems is in­ves­ti­gat­ing hy­dro­gen as a means to pro­vide ships with en­er­gy and propul­sion.
Researching and testing energy systems for shipping
Re­search­ing and test­ing en­er­gy sys­tems for ship­ping
Image 4/7, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Researching and testing energy systems for shipping

The en­er­gy sys­tems on ships sup­ply the var­i­ous ar­eas and ap­pli­ca­tions on board. These sys­tems are be­ing de­vel­oped based on new con­vert­ers and re­new­able stor­age me­dia, which will lead to a sig­nif­i­cant change in the struc­ture and spa­tial re­quire­ments in ships. This will af­fect all types of ships, in­clud­ing tankers, freighters, and cruise lin­ers.
Alexander Dyck, Acting Head of the institute
Alexan­der Dy­ck, Act­ing Head of the in­sti­tute
Image 5/7, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

Alexander Dyck, Acting Head of the institute

Alexan­der Dy­ck, Act­ing Head of the DLR In­sti­tute of Mar­itime En­er­gy Sys­tems, with a ship mod­el that il­lus­trates the en­er­gy flows on board.
Geesthacht site
Geesthacht site
Image 6/7, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Geesthacht site

The DLR In­sti­tute of Mar­itime En­er­gy Sys­tems is lo­cat­ed in the In­no­va­tion and Tech­nol­o­gy Cen­tre (GITZ) on the premis­es of Helmholtz-Zen­trum Here­on.
Test hall in Geesthacht
Test hall in Geesthacht
Image 7/7, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

Test hall in Geesthacht

A hall for tests with con­tain­er-based en­er­gy sys­tems is be­ing set up at the in­sti­tute's site in Geesthacht.
  • In future, ships should no longer produce emissions.
  • Floating demonstrator planned to test alternative propulsion systems and components.
  • 'Digital twin' supplements tests in borderline areas.
  • Focus: Energy, transport, digitalisation

Ships transport over 80 percent of the global freight volume. Most ships use heavy oil as fuel. In doing so, they generate almost three percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Cruise ships also contribute to climate-damaging carbon dioxide emissions. This must change. The new Institute of Maritime Energy Systems of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is developing technologies for decarbonising shipping – for all types of ships. The institute in Geesthacht, Schleswig-Holstein, was inaugurated at a virtual event on 28 May 2021.

"At our new institute in Geesthacht, the course is set for the maritime transport of the future. New developments ought to generate as few emissions as possible and have a closed-loop material cycle," explains Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Chair of the DLR Executive Board. "The entire infrastructure system is being considered, from the port to energy generation on board the ship. Thus, in addition to exploring the use of alternative fuels and many other things, the Institute will investigate hydrogen as a means of energy provision and propulsion."

With this new institute, DLR is expanding its research on shipping. In Geesthacht, ocean liners, cruise ships, smaller inland waterway vessels and yachts will all be considered equally and in a holistic manner. The work will motivate shipyards, ship outfitters, ship owners and port operators to make shipping more environmentally friendly.

"Sea freight, cruise and ferry traffic are increasing. More and more, the focus is on how renewable energies can be used sensibly and efficiently by ships and how emissions can be reduced to zero," said Daniel Günther, Minister President for Schleswig-Holstein, in his video message. "In Geesthacht, researchers will develop answers to some of the most pressing questions facing our economy and environment. That is why the state government is providing 15 million euros to support the establishment of the Institute and assuming a portion of the annual funding. We look forward to the work carried out by DLR and welcome the institution to Schleswig-Holstein."

Two hundred and fifty employees in four departments in the long term

The DLR institute is located in the Geesthachter Innovation and Technology Centre (GITZ) on the premises of Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon. Currently, 13 employees are building up the Institute's infrastructure. Test environments for container-based energy systems are being set up in a hall. In the long term, the Institute will employ 250 people in its four departments: Energy Converters and Systems, Energy Infrastructures, Virtual Ship and System Demonstration.

"In the maritime transport sector, we want to become emission-free well before 2050. The goal of the German Federal Government is for the first emission-free cruise ship 'Made in Germany' to become a reality as early as 2030. If this can be achieved with innovative solutions and technologies, the foundation will have been laid for the entire fleet to become emission-free, regardless of the type of ship. On the way there, however, it is first necessary to replace heavy fuel oil as an energy source in order to avoid the associated emissions. For this, solutions are also needed for retrofitting ships that are already in service. In all of this, the new DLR Institute of Maritime Energy Systems will make an important, application-oriented contribution to implementing the ambitious climate goals of the German government in the transport sector," says Norbert Brackmann, the Federal Government Coordinator for the Maritime Industry.

The Institute of Maritime Energy Systems intends to have a motor ship built on which various alternative propulsion systems will be tested. The floating demonstrator will advance the development of systems and components for inland and maritime shipping to the stage at which they can be used worldwide in the near future. A virtual ship known as a 'digital twin' will complement the research. With it, tests can be carried out safely and efficiently using simulations. For example, the operating conditions in extreme climates can be anticipated. The digital twin makes it possible to conduct safe tests in threshold conditions and reduces the number of real tests required. Furthermore, it facilitates the scaling of the systems to large container ships as well as to smaller inland vessels or other types of ships.

  • Katja Lenz
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-5401
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
  • Jana Hoidis
    Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Bre­men, Bre­mer­haven, Ham­burg and Old­en­burg
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Pub­lic Af­fairs and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
    Telephone: +49 421 24420-1908
    Am Fallturm 9
    28359 Bremen
  • Alexander Dyck
    Act­ing Head
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    In­sti­tute of Mar­itime En­er­gy Sys­tems
    Telephone: +49 4152 84881 01
    Max-Planck-Straße 2
    21502 Geesthacht


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