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How can energy and resources be utilized in an efficient, safe, and sustainable way?
Global bottlenecks are predictable – in the reliable supply of energy and also in the production of raw materials. And with modern society's high demand for energy an additional responsibility asrises: the safe disposal and treatment of wastes and residues. That is why Helmholtz energy researchers are looking for solutions to meet the needs of present and future generations.
At the HZDR the sector "Energy" is divided into three research programs:
- Energy Efficiency, Materials and Resources
- Storage Infrastructure
- Nuclear Waste Management and Safety
Energy Efficiency, Materials and Resources
One of the greatest challenges of our time is the shortage of raw materials and the resultant inevitable economization of energy and resources. How can we improve the efficiency of industrial processes? How can we safeguard and assure the supply of raw materials for the economy? How can we use resources and energy safely and efficiently? These are the three big questions which HZDR scientists are addressing in the research program “Energy Efficiency, Materials, and Resources".
The HZDR and the TU Bergakademie Freiberg (Freiberg University of Mining and Technology) are pooling their competences and infrastructure in the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology with the objective to provide new and environmentally sound technologies for the exploration, mining, and use of raw materials. The HZDR also contributes to new storage technologies and the safety and efficiency of power plants and industrial facilities.
Current Research Topics
Developing new and environmentally sound technologies for safeguarding the long-term supply of critical raw materials
Making industrial processes more efficient
The plan for the energy turnaround in Germany is facing a problem: The power being fed from photovoltaic systems and wind turbines actually depends on the environmental conditions and not the current demand. That is why inexpensive storage facilities – in addition to a number of other measures – are indispensable in order to balance supply and demand. The HZDR scientists in the program "Storage and Linked Infrastructures" investigate and develop so-called liquid metal batteries. While being very cost efficient these batteries could save large amounts of energy.
Current Research Topic
Investigating and constructing liquid metal batteries
Even though Germany has decided to gradually opt out of nuclear energy by 2022, the scientific community around the globe still continues to address the question of whether nuclear power plants and nuclear waste repositories are safe. In order to prevent and/or control potentially hazardous incidents in nuclear reactors and to precisely predict the possible dispersion of radionuclides in the environment and at potential nuclear waste repositories, we need to know much more about these highly complex processes. The HZDR also explores a new approach – the transmutation, the transformation of long-lived radionuclides into radionuclides with shorter half-lives or even non-radioactrive materials.
Current Research Topics
Making nuclear reactors safer
Providing reliable data on nuclear repositories