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 arises: 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".
Within the frame of German "Energiewende", higher efficiency as well as adaptivity to fluctuating energy and raw materials supply are a grand challenge for industry in terms of economy, sustainability, and competitiveness. The HZDR Institute of Fluiddynamics contributes to these goals by conducting research with a strong focus on energy-intensive industrial processes.
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
- To gain an in-depth understanding of transport processes from the molecular and interface level to the device scale at industry-relevant process conditions
- To derive validated physics-based models for flow, heat and mass transfer and to develop advanced computational methods and tools for supporting process design
- To develop and implement methods of process instrumentation, intensification and control.
Developing new technologies for safeguarding the long-term supply of mineral and metalliferous raw materials from domestic and global sources
Contributing to global environmental protection through material and energy efficieny
Establishing long-term economic relations with resource-based countries
Training a new generation of highly qualified scientists and engineers for German industry and for academia
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
- Measuring, simulating, and influencing flows in hot molten metals and salts
- Understanding and managing current-driven instabilities
- Contributing towards constructing large-scale liquid metal batteries
Nuclear Waste Management and Safety
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.
Current Research Topics
Better understanding of the processes for the long-term safety analysis of nuclear repositories in deep geological formations
Developing new equipment systems to gain a better understanding of the processes for dispersing radionuclides in the bio- and geosystems at the molecular and cellular level
Determination of data for the long-term safety analysis of nuclear repositories
Development and validation of neutron kinetic and thermal hydraulic methods for the analysis of design basis and severe accidents for nuclear reactors
Development and qualification of predictive Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models for two-phase flows in nuclear reactors
Conduction of industry-grade experiments for code validation using innovative measuring techniques (TOPFLOW facility)
Exploration of the mechanisms of irradiation effects in reactor pressure vessel steels and Gen-IV candidate materials by means of nanostructural characterization, atomistic modelling and mechanical testing