Renewable Energies and Resource Efficiency

The research area is mainly concerned with the development of methods and competences for increasing the efficiency of buildings, districts, production facilities and processes, with particular reference to sustainability and environmental compatibility. Energy and building technology systems, energy-efficient and resource-efficient production methods as well as the use of biomass to produce materials and energy are thematic focal points.

 

The following are actively engaged in the research area:

  • Faculty of Electrical Engineering
  • Faculty of Automotive Engineering
  • Faculty of Mechanical Engineering
  • Faculty of Supply Engineering

 

 


 

Research Projects

Please use the project query system and select the respective research area from the drop-down menu.

 


 

Researchers give an insight into their work

In interviews, the researchers present the research area and one of their research projects.

 

Renewable Energies and Resource Efficiency - Prof. Brüggemann and Prof. Kühl

“The proximity of research and teaching makes our projects so exciting” - Prof. Brüggemann and Prof. Kühl in dialogue about the research area

This objective is one of the major challenges facing our world: Energy supply and consumption should be more climate-friendly. Sustainability and environmental compatibility play an important role in the research area Renewable Energies and Resource Efficiency at Ostfalia. In this interview, the Professors Holger Brüggemann and Lars Kühl talk about the projects they are working on and who benefits from them. And they explain why the research area enriches their work.

 


Professor Brüggemann, Professor Kühl, how much energy can companies save in production?

Holger Brüggemann: In our projects we have found that companies can reduce their consumption by up to 30 percent. In Lower Saxony the areas of industry, trade, commerce and services account for more than 40 percent of the total energy consumption. This shows how great the potential is that we have not exploited yet.

 


Why is it important that we use energy more economically?

Holger Brüggemann: We have set ourselves high climate protection goals. The master plan for the greater Brunswick area provides that we want to reduce energy consumption by half until the year 2050 and greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent. There are similar plans for Lower Saxony and Germany-wide. In order to achieve these goals, there are basically only two ways. First, we need more renewable energy sources. And secondly, we have to increase energy efficiency significantly – and that is precisely what I work on in the production environment.

Lars Kühl: I am working on the use of renewable energies in buildings – the supply of heating, cooling and electricity. Geothermal and solar thermal systems, heat pumps and photovoltaics: these are just a few of the headings for the large range of topics that we cover with our research projects. And we also include these topics in teaching: we pass the findings from our projects on to the students. Again and again, lectures take place on site in businesses and buildings. With ongoing processes, students can follow optimisation measures – so to speak live and in colour. This close proximity of research and teaching also makes our projects so exciting.

 


Why don’t more companies concern themselves with renewable energies and energy efficiency?

Holger Brüggemann: Many underestimate the opportunities to save energy. They know that compressed air tools are not particularly efficient and leaks are a waste of resources. But they are surprised to hear that exchanging a pneumatic screwdriver for an electric screwdriver uses 90 percent less energy. Many small and medium-sized companies are also working to capacity already. They often lack the time to address this subject.

 


And this is where you come in?

Lars Kühl: Yes, it is also up to us to inform them about the potential savings and how to use them. We visit plants, offices and residential buildings, equip them with measurement technology and record the consumption of electricity, heat and cold. Then we explain how renewable energies and efficiency measures can improve the energy consumption figures. We also develop concepts for the energy supply of entire buildings. The new construction of the Oeding printing plant in Brunswick is an energy-plus building generating its own energy. Ostfalia made a significant contribution to the planning of the building.

 


What else have you worked on?

Holger Brüggemann: The expansion of the Lower Saxony “learning factory” for resource efficiency at Ostfalia (NiFaR). This project gave rise to a non-profit organisation many partners are actively involved in and many employees from companies have been trained in. In this way we have shown many companies new ways and means to improve energy efficiency. In the field of robotics, we have worked with Volkswagen AG to determine which influences affect energy consumption. If you change the robot’ s programming, you can save up to 40 percent of the energy.

 


Who is involved in your research area?

Lars Kühl: Our research area involves first and foremost the Ostfalia Faculties of Mechanical Engineering, Supply Engineering as well as Automotive Engineering and Electrical Engineering. The reason is that electromobility is an important issue: We can integrate storage capacities from vehicles into the energy supply of buildings. We are also well networked outside of Ostfalia: via the contact with other universities, industrial enterprises, planning offices as well as residential property developers and municipalities we can integrate issues such as building construction and architecture, control and measurement engineering. Thus we work according to the state of the art in real projects and are oriented towards the needs of the users. 

Holger Brüggemann: It helps us that the topics digitisation and Industry 4.0 play a major role in businesses. Whoever digitalises production also quickly sees substantial progress after only a short time. Our research area benefits from the fact that Ostfalia has positioned itself quite strongly in digitisation.

Lars Kühl: It is important that there is an interface to the social scientists. This way we examine how the optimisation measures and the use of modern technologies can gain the necessary acceptance by the users.

 


Why does the research area enrich your work?

Holger Brüggemann: Because I can contribute to ensuring that we achieve our climate protection goals. And because investments in the energy efficiency of machines and plants generally lead to increased productivity. By means of declining energy consumption we can also improve the competitiveness of companies. In my view, this is a very sensible task …

Lars Kühl: …especially since we do not just implement the energy-saving measures. But also convey the numerous possibilities offered by renewable energy and energy efficiency to our students in teaching. Like this, we ensure that our research has a sustainable impact.

 

Renewable Energies and Resource Efficiency - Prof. Klapproth

New renewable energy supply concepts for rural areas - Professor Klapproth in dialogue about the ReBoot feasibility study

In this interview, Professor Corinna Klapproth discusses the ReBoot feasibility study and the development of a concept for rural areas based primarily on bioenergy and its flexibilisation.

 


Could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Corinna Klapproth and for the last five years I have been a professor at the Faculty of Supply Engineering, appointed for mathematical modelling and simulation in the fields of bioengineering, environmental technology and energy technology. I was originally a mathematician and physicist and have previously worked in a wide variety of simulation fields, including in biomechanics and the tyre industry.

 

Prof. Klapproth on her way to her office

Professor Corinna Klapproth on her way to her office at the Wolfenbüttel Campus of Ostfalia University

 


Since October 2020, you and other researchers have been working together on the ReBoot project. Could you tell us what this project is about?

ReBoot is a joint project with my colleagues Professor Thorsten Ahrens, Professor Ekkehard Boggasch and Professor Henning Zindler from the Faculty of Supply Engineering, as well as a number of other partners from the region. Our aim is to build a renewable energy supply structure for rural areas, based on the flexibilisation of bioenergy. At the moment, most bioenergy is generated around the clock, primarily to cover the base load. This is the quantity of electricity and heat that is needed constantly over the course of a day. The aim of ReBoot is to try and flexibilise the production of biogas plants, meaning that only as much or as little energy is generated as is actually needed. We have chosen a model rural region, where our goal is to establish an energy supply that is as self-sufficient and renewable as possible.

 


What is meant by a renewable energy supply, and why is bioenergy so important as a source of energy for the future?

Renewable energy refers to any energy source that does not consume resources; it refers, above all, to solar and wind energy, but also to bioenergy. Bioenergy is generated from biomass, usually wood, plants, organic waste or manure. At the moment, the focus is not so much on bioenergy, since it is currently produced at a very constant rate, and can really only be used to cover the base load. However, the amendment or expiry of the Renewable Energies Act also brings about a change in the conditions affecting biogas plants. To this extent, it makes sense to think about flexibilisation. For example, our aim in Neuerkerode is to use bioenergy first and foremost to cover the heat demand of the Neuerkerode Foundation. This demand is seasonal, as far more heat is needed in winter than in summer.

 


What are the aims of the study?

Our aim is to develop a concept for rural areas based primarily on bioenergy and its flexibilisation. This will involve using a simulation model, and to start with, we will consider what concept would in principle make the most sense, not only from a business perspective but also from an energy and environmental point of view. We want to place the focus on the areas of heat, electricity and mobility. The concept will be tested using the example of the Neuerkerode Foundation, but the idea is for it to be transferable to other rural areas. For now, ReBoot is conceived as a feasibility study, which means that we are not concerned with practical work just yet but are mainly conducting analyses. However, we hope to be able to move into the pilot phase once the concept phase has been concluded. 

 

 

Graph showing an integrated energy supply model including a bioenergy plant

Graph showing an integrated energy supply model including a bioenergy plant

 


You chose Neuerkerode as your model region, a village in Lower Saxony, the majority of whose residents are people with disabilities. What is it that makes Neuerkerode so suitable?

Neuerkerode is set in a rural area. It is a small and self-contained complex that already has its own, well-functioning energy infrastructure. It is first and foremost a local heating infrastructure that extends to all the properties in the village. At the moment, the local heating system is run via a biogas plant located outside the village. The waste heat from this cogeneration plant is fed into the local heating system. There is also a boiler house in the village which obtains heat from an external source. This means that our ideas can be easily tied in with the existing infrastructure.

 


The heat, electricity and mobility sectors are all interlinked. How do you combine them in this study?

As far as the Neuerkerode Foundation is concerned, heating is certainly the area for which there is the greatest demand. As for electricity, we are particularly looking at electromobility. We want to try and link these areas using a simulation model, in other words, to connect together what in practice consists of independent elements.

We wish to construct a time-based model that shows us how much energy can be produced in the course of a day or year while also showing how much energy is consumed. By connecting the various energy generation and storage systems in the network together virtually (in the form of a smart grid), we can forecast the energy balance and the economic efficiency of the various concepts.

 


You have already mentioned electric energy. Does the study also cover electric vehicles?

There are already some electric vehicles in use at the Neuerkerode Foundation, but even though the number is still very small, it does offer potential for development. In this context, it is also important to consider the charging infrastructure. It would also make sense for the charging points to run on bioenergy or solar power and we would need to allow sufficient flexibility in this respect too. Naturally, these are also subject to daily and weekly fluctuations, since differing amounts of energy will be required at any given time.

 

The ReBoot project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture through the Agency for Renewable Resources (Fachagentur für Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V.). It is initially being conducted as a feasibility study, in the period October 2020 to April 2022. The other partners along with Ostfalia University are the Neuerkerode Foundation and Bioenergie Elm. 

 


 

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