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DLR – Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics

Logo DLRThe Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt -DLR) does research in the field of efficient energy storage systems that conserve natural resources, and next generation energy conversion technologies with a staff of 150 scientific and technical employees, engineers and doctoral candidates at Stuttgart, Köln-Porz, Ulm, and Hamburg.

The spectrum of activities ranges from theoretical studies, to laboratory work for basic research and to the operation of pilot plants.

These experimental and theoretical studies are accompanied by systems analysis studies to analyse the associated technological, environmental, and economic potential, and situate it in a larger overall context of the energy economy by means of scenarios. In addition to these core activities in the DLR field ‘Energy’, the Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics also works on selected subjects from the fields of ‘Aviation’ and ‘Transportation’, thus contributing to other focal points of DLR. These include developments to the use of fuel cells in aircraft and ground vehicles and to the generation and storage of hydrogen.

A major characteristic is the interdisciplinary collaboration of the departments, so that skills and synergies are utilized to the full extent for project work. The Institute and its activities are very well integrated in national and international research networks.

Due to the fields in which it researches, the institute acts as a bridge between basic research and industrial development, and thus often plays a key role in the introduction of new technologies. In addition to research and development, other important functions are advising political and business decision-makers, and advanced training of young scientists.

With its strategic, long-term research and developmental work in the field of energy engineering, the institute makes a major contribution to ensuring power supplies that conserve natural resources and thus to sustainable development for our society.

Department of Systems Analysis and Technology Assessment

Because of the inherent inertia of the energy system, any decisions taken in the energy sector have particularly long term impacts. Opportunities offered by new technologies and potential negative consequences on the environment and on society can be identified in time by provident and pro-active decision making. A pre-requisite for such a course of action is a thorough understanding of complex systems, which allows decision makers to find a balance between the technical and economic possibilities of to-day, and the long term development perspectives.

The department provides methods and tools which support problem solving in the field of energy related systems analysis and technology assessment. Specific knowledge is generated which can guide decision makers from science, policy and industry to identify long term research priorities, and to establish a framework supporting sound energy-, environmental- and research-policy.

The systems analysis work of the department combines top-down analysis of the overall energy supply system at regional, national and European level with technology oriented bottom-up studies in relevant areas like Life Cycle Assessment,the assessment of re-source potentials of renewable energies and economic analyses. Conceptual work on sustainability issues, on technological learning and on market introduction mechanism of new technologies complete the field of activities.

Research activities of the department Systems Analysis and Technology Assessment can be allocated to the following four key areas:

(I) Technical-economic-environmental analyses of the deployment of emerging energy technologies

(II) Development of concepts for sustainable energy systems by means of scenarios techniques

(III) Investigation of market introduction and implementation strategies for new technologies and structures in the energy field

(IV) Conceptual work on the advancement of scientific system analysis methods with regard to the specific qualities of renewable energies and decentralized supply structures