Research Topics

Research in the research and business hub of Baden-Württemberg is focused on areas that provide the biggest growth potential for the future. Research Topics can be found in the following fields: bio-economy, electro-mobility and lightweight automotive manufacturing, energy research, smart manufacturing (Industrie 4.0), lightweight construction, aerospace and aviation, medical research and medical Technology.These include green mobility, environmental technology, renewable energy and resource efficiency, health, information and communication technology and green IT. In some areas, Baden-Württemberg has set up state agencies to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and Technology between researchers and businesses. They include BIOPRO BW, e-mobil BW, Leichtbau BW, Medien- und Filmgesellschaft BW and Umwelttechnik BW.

The state also supports a number of areas that are important for research. For example, its high-performance computing strategy includes all levels of high-performance computing in Baden-Württemberg and is coordinated with national and European strategies. The universities and non-university research institutions receive funding in the area of e-science. The aim is to build and develop an e-science infrastructure that is fit for the future.

Bioeconomics 

MICRO ALGAE FOR NUTRITION
Micro algae are an important source of protein for human and animal nutrition, but in the past they have been Little used. They contain valuable ingredients that are useful for a wide range of products. As agricultural land around the globe shrinks, micro algae are particularly interesting as a source of raw materials for the bioeconomy because they can be cultivated in huge quantities. Hybrid products are of particular interest, in which animal proteins are partly replaced by substances derived from algae. Any residues of further industrial processing can then be used in animal feed. The aim of the research association is to select suitable micro algae, along with their cultivation, harvesting and processing. It also seeks to develop process chains for the manufacturing of quality products. The research association is part of the Bioeconomy Baden-Württemberg research programme, which has been funding around 50 research projects since 2014 in the areas of lignocellulose, biogas, micro algae and bioeconomy modelling. The focus has also been on sustainability, and ethical evaluation and acceptance on the part of the consumer.

UNIVERSITY OF HOHENHEIM
For more information visit: www.bioeconomy-research-bw.de/mikroalgen

 

BIO-METHANOL FROM WASTE WATER
At present, cleaning waste water requires significant amounts of electricity to remove organic pollutants from the water, which in themselves contain energy. As part of the ERWAS programme run by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), this is being tackled by the interdisciplinary Biomethanol joint research project. The energy contained in waste water should be exploited in order to increase the efficiency of waste water treatment. In addition, carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2) are to be extracted in a microbial electrolysis cell from the organic matter in the waste water and turned into methanol in a downstream catalysis process. Methanol is a fuel that is easy to store and transport, and it can also be used as a basis for further chemical synthesis.

UNIVERSITY OF FREIBURG
For more information visit: www.biomethanol.uni-freiburg.de

Electromobility and lightweight vehicle engineering 

E-VOLUTION – EN ROUTE TO PERFORMANCE ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Customers have high expectations when it comes to performance, range, charging times and the practicality of electric vehicles. The focus of the e-volution project is to bring together cutting-edge technology from all areas of e-vehicle research. As part of the Cluster Electric Mobility South-West, the BMBF-funded project integrates findings from a number of cluster projects in a demonstrator. A key element is raising the voltage level in order to achieve benefits in terms of performance, dimensions and weight. The project is also looking into three independent charging systems: inductive charging, direct voltage charging and charging via current inverters. The latter does not require a charging device, which leads to further weight and cost savings. The higher voltage level offered by direct voltage charging in particular has the potential to reduce charging times.

CLUSTER ELECTRIC MOBILITY SOUTH-WEST
For more information visit: www.emobil-sw.de

 

LIGHTWEIGHT BODYWORK FOR ELECTROMOBILITY
The BMBF SMiLE project (multi material lightweight Engineering for electromobility) is developing new kinds of lightweight, multi-material bodywork for the special requirements of the electromobility sector. The focus of this Project is the use of new materials and material combinations to reduce the weight of functional vehicle components to develop new design concepts for electric vehicles in Composite construction. The aim is to develop innovative, functional bodywork using thermoplastic and Duromer fibre composites and non-ferrous metals. The mix of materials should be usable by a wide range of commercial processes and enable the integration of new methods of energy storage. SMiLE aims to provide a foundation for basic innovation that is suitable for many applications through the involvement of major names in the automotive and supplier sectors, along with universities and research institutions.

FRAUNHOFER INSTITUTE FOR CHEMICAL TECHNOLOGY (ICT )
For more information visit: www.ict.fraunhofer.de

Energy 

STORING ENERGY WITH POWER-TO-GAS TECHNOLOGY
The supply of solar and wind power into the electricity grid is subject to strong fluctuations. So a major challenge remains to be overcome before we can move to all energy being supplied from renewable resources: how to store electricity from renewable resources, in order to meet the demands of industry and private households and not waste excess energy that is generated. “Power-to-gas” (P2G®) promises to provide a solution to this problem. The ZSW is developing technologies that convert excess green electricity into hydrogen and methane. Hydrogen and methane can be stored for months in large quantities in the natural gas grid without loss. This means that P2G® can use an existing infrastructure. Both gases can, if necessary, be converted back into electricity or used directly in fuel cells and natural gas vehicles. In this way, P2G® may make a key contribution to the energy transition in the transport sector and also to stabilising electricity supplies.

CENTRE FOR SOLAR ENERGY AND HYDROGEN RESEARCH BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG (ZSW)
For more information visit: www.zsw-bw.de

 

ENERGY TRANSITION PLATFORM 2.0
The Energy Lab 2.0 is accelerating the energy transition, particularly by integrating renewable energies into electricity generation. It allows new approaches to stabilising the energy grid to be tested in close-to-real-life conditions. A network of facilities combines electric, thermal and chemical energy flows with new information and communication technology. The Energy Lab 2.0 project is at the heart of the energy research strategy of the Helmholtz Association. By 2018, it will create a simulation and control centre and a network of facilities for energy and technology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), an electrolysis test centre at the Jülich Research Centre and a testing facility for power-to-heat concepts at the German Aerospace Centre in Stuttgart. This combined infrastructure is the first of its kind in Europe.

KARLSRUHE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (KIT)
For more information visit: www.kit.edu

Industrie 4.0 

RESEARCH FACTORY OF THE FUTURE
This area of research is working on fundamental changes to the principle of industrial manufacturing, including the replacement of the former assembly line principle with flexible, sustainable production as part of Industry 4.0. In future a smart, fully networked factory should be able to operate in a more sustainable and economic way. An extremely flexible production process can be individually adapted to meet the needs of volatile markets, demographic change and increasing numbers of variants. The assembly line of the future is automated and so flexible that new designs can immediately enter into production. The ARENA2036 project is developing a flexible type of production with logistics modules that goes beyond traditional assembly lines. Europe’s largest research factory is combining humans and robots to create a model for Production 4.0. The ARENA2036 research campus in Stuttgart represents a new form of collaboration in which different partners from the worlds of science and business come together under one roof to work on the future of production and lightweight engineering.

UNIVERSITY OF STUTTGART
For more information visit: www.arena2036.de

 

THE ENGINEERING PROGRAMME OF THE FUTURE
The Laboratory for Production and Information Management at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University in Mosbach is a state-of-the-art model factory with real and virtual components and systems for simulating operational processes in production, logistics and customer service. The interplay between the Engineering disciplines of electrical engineering, computer science and industrial engineering is taught in a cross-disciplinary way. The laboratory is also used to carry out joint research with corporate partners. For example, student projects have included expanding a mechatronics training system with an Android app for Bosch Rexroth, which offers the ability to control the plant and augmented reality features. Other sensors allow components to be identified using NFC tags, along with determining their position on the conveyor belt.

BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG COOPERATIVE STATE UNIVERSITY, MOSBACH
For more information visit: www.mosbach.dhbw.de

Lightweight engineering 

MACHINING IN LIGHTWEIGHT ENGINEERING
The multi-location SPANTEC-light joint project has been funded since 2012 by the state’s Centres of Applied Research at Universities of Applied Sciences programme and coordinated by the University of Aalen. It also involves the Universities of Mannheim and Ulm in consultation with businesses from the industry. The focus of the project is the use of machining technology with lightweight materials such as fibre Composites and multi-material composites. Its use in plant and automotive engineering and energy technology produces savings in weight and energy and in this way can make a significant contribution to greater resource and energy efficiency. A particular focus of the project is the connection between the processing of materials and their later application characteristics.

UNIVERSITIES OF AALEN, MANNHEIM AND ULM
For more information visit: www.zafh-spantec.de

 

NEW MATRIX SYSTEMS
The German Institute of Textile Research in Denkendorf, Esslingen University and nine partners from industry are working on the “FAST Matrix” project, which is developing a new process for producing fibre-strengthened Composites with a thermoplastic matrix. The idea is to use new catalyst materials in a range of manufacturing processes in order to develop a lightweight material that can be recycled. The materials consist of fibres and the surrounding matrix material. Thermoplastic synthetic polyamides are used as the matrix in order to improve the manufacturing process. The material has low viscosity, can quickly and reliably moisten fibre surfaces and fill complex shapes of moulded components. The matrix only begins to harden when the fibres are completely enclosed. This is one of the most important prerequisites for optimum adhesion between fibre and matrix in high-tensile composites. The project is testing the suitability of various matrix systems for use in a range of production processes.

INSTITUTE OF TEXTILE CHEMISTRY AND CHEMICAL FIBRES OF THE GERMAN INSTITUTE FOR TEXTILE AND FIBRE RESEARCH DENKENDORF (ITCF)
For more information visit: www.itcf-denkendorf.de

Aerospace engineering 

ALTERNATIVE AVIATION FUELS
Synthetic alternatives based on coal, natural gas or biomass should gradually replace the kerosine used in aviation fuels. These alternative fuels have the potential to help make Aviation much more environmentally friendly. They can be produced in such a way that they are even superior to kerosine in terms of their environmental and technical credentials. The DLR Institute of Combustion Technology in Stuttgart is studying the characteristics of these new fuels and developing technologies and design tools to be able to use liquid and gaseous alternative fuels in gas turbine combustion chambers in a clean and efficient way. Working with its partners, the DLR is also carrying out test flights to find out how alternative fuels can reduce the impact of aviation on the climate.

GERMAN AEROSPACE CENTER (DLR)
For more information visit: www.dlr.de

 

ELECTRIC MOTORS – TODAY IN SMALL PLANES, TOMORROW IN SCHEDULED AIRLINES
Manned, electrically powered flight for small planes is possible. This has been demonstrated by the Institute of Aircraft Design at Stuttgart University. In 2011, the battery-operated e-Genius took its maiden flight. Since then, the e-Genius team has carried out test flights and set new records, making them the pioneers in the design of small commercial aircraft. They are demonstrating how electrically powered planes can be designed to be quiet, cheap, comfortable and environmentally friendly. However, the pure battery-driven motor design using limited energy density modern lithium-ion batteries cannot yet be scaled up for large aircraft. As in the automotive area, researchers at the IFB are using the e-Genius as a platform for testing hybrid drive systems and new integrated drive systems in order to prepare for the use of these new technologies in large aircraft.

INSTITUTE OF AIRCRAFT DESIGN, UNIVERSITY OF STUTTGART (IFB)
For more information visit: www.ifb.uni-stuttgart.de/egenius

Medicine and medical technology 

THE WORLD’S FASTEST NANOSCOPE
The research team led by Stefan Hell at the German Cancer Research Center has been able to massively increase the recording speed of the ultra-high resolution optical microscope, the STED nanoscope. Hell received the Nobel Prize in 2014 for developing this ultra-high resolution optical microscope. He and his team recently demonstrated how it could for the first time take up to 1,000 pictures per second. This makes it possible to produce high resolution videos with time steps of milliseconds, for example of transport mechanisms in living nerve cells and of HIV particles entering the cell. This kind of high-speed imaging is  important when processes occur so quickly that it requiresa whole series of images to identify in detail what is happening. The systematic ongoing development of STED and related technologies and their application in medical research  are the key objective of the Department of OpticalNanoscopy at the German Cancer Research Center in  Heidelberg. Stefan Hell is also Director of the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen.

GERMAN CANCER RESEARCH CENTER (DKFZ)
For more information visit: www.dkfz.de

 

MICRO IMPLANTS AGAINST DIABETES
Bioelectronic micro-implants can stimulate the nervous system locally and electrically and be used to treat pain, migraines and depression. It has also been shown to be effective against diabetes and high blood pressure. However, their development is still in the early stages. A research alliance made up of four institutes in the Baden-Württemberg Innovation Alliance (inn-BW) is now planning to take it further with its “innBW implant” project. The aim is to develop tiny, flexible, electrically charged implants with integrated sensors and actuators that are able to measure signals relating to disease and modulate them in a therapeutic way. They will mainly be used in treating metabolic disorders such as diabetes and in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of brain disorders.

BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG INNOVATION ALLIANCE
NATURAL AND MEDICAL SCIENCES INSTITUTE, AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TÜBINGEN (NMI)
For more information visit: www.innbw.de

The humanities and the social sciences 

THE WORLD’S FASTEST NANOSCOPE INTER-GENERATIONAL INTEGRATION OF MIGRANTS
Europe is seeing growing numbers of migrants and their families. How to integrate them into increasingly heterogeneous societies is a social challenge on the political agenda. Numerous indicators show that many European countries are facing difficulties with the integration of migrants and their families because of structural problems, social segmentation and cultural differences. But some countries have had success with certain ethnic groups. The causes and mechanisms behind these varying results for different groups and countries and the differences in processes of intergenerational integration and their complex interplay is the subject of the “Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey”, conducted by the Department of General Sociology at the University of Mannheim. The project looks at the integration of second-generation migrants in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. It is the first fully standardized longitudinal survey on this subject to be carried out in Europe and it is funded by the NORFACE programme.

UNIVERSITY OF MANNHEIM
For more information visit: www.cils4.eu

INTERNATIONAL JURISDICTION AND DEMOCRACY
The establishment of international courts is one of the most striking developments of recent decades. It is linked to a qualitative change: international courts not only handle individual disputes but also work for judicial progress. So they need a democratic mandate. The project titled “In whose name? A public law theory of international jurisdiction in light of the democratic principle” develops an understanding of judicial decisions as an expression of official authority and examines the problems of their justification, because these actions are not based on a fully functioning legislative system and so law is uncoupled from politics. It also outlines strategies for actions and shows that the normal focus of the development of international jurisdiction is the people who bear it and the idea of the world citizen.

MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE FOR COMPARATIVE PUBLIC LAW AND INTERNATIONAL LAW
For more information visit: www.mpil.de

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