Concentrating Solar Thermal Technologies
In concentrating solar thermal power plants, sunlight is focused on absorbers by means of mirrors. The generated high-temperature heat can be stored thermally at high efficiencies and be used according to demand for energy generation and process engineering. KIT investigates the use of liquid metals as efficient high-temperature heat carrier media and develops the respective suitable structures and materials. Another focus of work is on direct energy conversion by means of AMTEC (Alkali Metal Thermal Energy Convertor).
R&D activities on bioenergy, among others, are in the focus of KIT’s Renewable Energies Program. During conversion of lignocellulose-containing biomass such as straw or waste wood, thermochemical processes e.g., rapid pyrolysis or hydrothermal liquefaction, are applied to produce high-energy-density bio-oils, which after conditioning and upgrading can be fed into different fuel streams. For process scaling, KIT operates pilot plants e.g., the bioliq pilot plant for production of high-grade synthetic fuels of biogenic origin. In addition, microbiological methods are applied to e.g., convert synthesis gases into platform molecules. New biomasses such as microalgae are investigated in complete value-added chains. They are disintegrated particularly efficiently by electroporation.
Geothermal Energy Systems
In an interdisciplinary approach, KIT researches into central issues of deep geothermal energy for sustainable power generation and heat supply. Research activities are subdivided into clusters i.e., reservoir characterization and development, thermal water cycle, materials and geoprocesses, and power plant operation. Numerical simulation is a cross-cutting key competence topic.