Saving energy in steel casting
Steel production involves temperatures of 1,500° C, which makes it one of the most energy-intensive industrial processes of all. Speeding up the pouring rate can save energy, but it also increases the risk of casting defects and results in a lower-quality product. Researchers are now taking a fresh look at an old technology and using magnetic fields to control the metal flows.
A bright, yellow idea for solar cells
However much sunlight hits a silicon solar cell, the technology cannot actually convert more than 30 percent of it into electricity. Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) want to break that barrier by using photochemical upconversion, which involves bundling two low-energy photons (light particles) to create a single high-energy photon. The result? A turbo-powered boost for solar cells.
How do solar cells work? Video
There is intense research on solar cells at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin. A report (in German):
Bringing the sun down to Earth
Harnessing the sun’s energy for use on Earth is the goal of fusion research. Fusion power plants could provide baseload power, as their fuel is available in almost unlimited quantities. No greenhouse gases are emitted, no repository for nuclear waste is needed, no catastrophic accident can occur. The fuel for fusion power is a hydrogen plasma. Because of its extreme heat, the plasma cannot be contained in any material vessel since it would cool down upon contact. Instead, carefully designed and accurately balanced magnetic fields contain the plasma and keep it away from the sides. Two concepts are currently being tested out at the same time: tokamak and stellarator.
Is this how the future might look like? A school class in 2100 re-enacts how the development of the fusion energy source proceeded. Video
An interview with the scientific director of the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics Prof. Dr. Sibylle Günter (in German). Video
More information on fusion research are provided here.
Solving global challenges
The High-Tech Strategy for Germany
The High-Tech Strategy is intended to help Germany assume a leading role in the solution of global challenges andto give convincing answers to the important questions of the 21th century. In this way, we are not only contributing to improving the lives of many people. A broad base in science and research and the development of quality technology are also helping us secure prosperity and qualified jobs in Germany. The Federal Government has therefore defined ten forward-looking projects, relying on the advice of the Industry-Science Research Alliance.
More information about the forward-looking project „Intelligent restructuring of energy supply“ can be found here (in German only).