Energy Technologies

The energy market is undergoing a profound transformation process. The energy system of the future will be regenerative and the generation units and consumers will be highly interconnected.   

Fraunhofer IFAM is supporting this transformation process with its expertise in materials science and manufacturing technology and is active in the field of renewable energies (especially solar and wind energy), batteries, thermal energy storage, the hydrogen economy, and the circular economy. In addition, a central topic is energy system analysis. Fraunhofer IFAM also considers material and energy efficiency in its work.  

 

Global energy consumption (G20 countries) has increasingly decoupled from economic development and recently increased more slowly than economic output (a reduction was observed in 2020 due to the CoVid-19 pandemic). CO2 emissions were reduced despite a slight increase in energy consumption. Thus, it is evident that the path taken by the increased use of renewable energy sources such as  

  • solar energy  
  • wind energy  
  • hydroelectric power  
  • bioenergy  
  • geothermal energy   
  • and increasing energy efficiency (including combined heat and power, sector coupling, energy storage or electromobility) is possible and has a significant positive effect on greenhouse gas emissions.  

At the same time, it is now clear that the efforts made to date are far from sufficient to achieve the climate targets set out in the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement. Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced much faster. Accordingly, significantly greater efforts are planned in many countries, including Germany. These include increasing the use of renewable energies, boosting energy efficiency, creating efficient storage options, building a hydrogen economy and boosting material efficiency. In this context, the path must move away from fossil material flows in the direction of sustainable energy and material flows ("circular economy"). 

Central elements for innovations in energy technology are the development of new materials, material combinations and joining processes as well as the application of efficient manufacturing processes and production chains that meet the technical and economic requirements of energy technology undergoing transformation. The institute's scientists, including those from the fields of materials science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemistry and the development of processes and plant components, combine their expertise for the required system solutions. Starting with tailor-made materials, through manufacturing technology and surface functionalization, to the complete characterization and qualification of component and system behavior, current issues can be comprehensively addressed in collaboration with our customers. 

 

With its core competencies, Fraunhofer IFAM offers companies in the energy technology sector a spectrum of innovations, including   

  • energy system analysis and studies on the transformation of the energy sector  
  • materials and processes for the hydrogen economy  
  • materials and processes for the solar and wind industries  
  • batteries and thermal energy storage   
  • inspection, process monitoring and quality assurance  
  • investigations and tests in accredited laboratories  
  • personnel qualification in the field of adhesive bonding technology and fiber reinforced plastics
 

Energy sector coupling and energy system analysis

The use of hydrogen in energy sector coupling opens up new opportunities for the energy turnaround through additional control options, storage facilities and energy and material flows. Extensive research and development work is required for this. Waste heat utilization and distribution will also play an important role.

 

Renewable energies - material and process innovations

Today, renewable energies have in many cases reached a very high technical level and, in good locations, also very competitive profitability. A large number of material and process innovations will enable further improvements to existing designs and construction methods and further reduce energy generation costs.

 

Energy storage

Energy storage systems make it possible to absorb production surpluses and make them available again when there is a corresponding demand. Thermal energy storage systems are an important component in the field of energy storage, because the storage and distribution of heat is essential for the rapid success of the energy transition. 

 

Hydrogen economy

Despite many years of experience with hydrogen, the development of a hydrogen economy requires a major effort on the part of German and European industry. To this end, issues relating to production, transport, storage and use for a wide range of applications must be clarified and the corresponding infrastructure built up. 

 

Energy and material efficiency

In addition to increasing the amount of energy produced from renewable sources, reducing energy consumption is a key objective for achieving climate targets. The economical use of energy is correspondingly important. In industry, energy efficiency can be increased in part through approaches from Industry 4.0 or through alternative production technologies.   

 

Sustainable energy and material flows

In industry, material developments and joining technologies to conserve resources and avoid a linear economy are therefore in demand. To achieve this goal, experts at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM are working on technologies that reduce the use of resources and increase the recyclability of products.