Press Release 046/2012

2012 Hannover Messe: Innovations by KIT

Energy from Algae – Lasers for Battery Production – Electronic Drawbar for Agricultural Machines – Organic Computing in Tractors
Algen als Energiequelle: KIT zeigt auf der Messe einen Photobioreaktor  zur Kultivierung von Mikroalgen. (Foto: KIT, Florian Lehr)
Algae, a source of energy: KIT will present a photobioreactor for the cultivation of microalgae at the 2012 Hannover Messe. (Photo: KIT, Florian Lehr)

At the 2012 Hannover Messe from April 23 to 27, KIT will present innovations relating to energy, mobility, IT, and other topics of relevance to the future. KIT will inform about its algae engineering platform and exhibit a photobioreactor for microalgae. In addition, new laser technologies for the production of lithium-ion batteries, an electronic drawbar for agricultural machines, and an organic computing system for tractors will be presented. Co-exhibitors will be KNMF, EUMINAfab, EnSoC, and KIC InnoEnergy. KIT will also contribute to other stands and special exhibitions.

Main KIT Stand, Hall 2, C18:
Algae as a source of energy.
Microalgae act like small power plants: They convert a relatively large fraction of sunlight into chemical energy. Doing this, they take up large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. They can be cultivated in technical systems and, hence, do not require any arable areas and do not compete with food production. Certain microalgae contain high oil fractions or can produce hydrogen from water and sunlight. At KIT, several institutes focus on algae research. The KIT Platform for Algae Engineering covers the complete chain of use of algae as an energy source, from reactor development to solid-liquid separation and cell disintegration by electroporation to accompanying systems analysis. KIT researchers develop novel photobioreactors ensuring optimum use of light for highly efficient conversion of sunlight into biomass. The laboratory photobioreactor displayed is an angular gap reactor of 25 liters volume for the cultivation of microalgae. It is aerated with CO2 and air. The pH value, temperature, and gas supply can be controlled. The reactor is autoclavable.

Lasers for the production of lithium-ion batteries.
Successful implementation of electromobility and stationary energy storage requires high-performance and low-cost batteries based on lithium ions. KIT scientists work on laser technologies, such as cutting, welding, and surface modification, to simplify production processes, stabilize the performance on the cell level, and reduce costs of complete battery systems. By means of a laser technique developed by KIT, electrode surfaces are modified such that a liquid electrolyte is very rapidly and homogeneously transported into the porous battery material during filling. As a result, 80% of the modified electrodes are wetted by the electrolyte after 10 seconds already. Sophisticated processes for enhanced wetting are no longer required. The cells manufactured in this way reach better performance data.

Energie und Mobilität: Leistungsstarke und kostengünstige Energiespeicher sind un-erlässlich, um die Elektromobilität auf breiter Front zu verwirklichen.  (Abbildung: KIT, Frau Maika Torge)

Energy and mobility: High-performance and low-cost energy stores are indispensable for the successful wide implementation of electromobility.  
(Figure: KIT, Maika Torge)


 EDA – Elektronische Deichsel für landwirtschaftliche Arbeitsmaschinen. In der Landwirtschaft ist es  seit Beginn des Ackerbaus üblich, große Nutzflächen mit mehreren Maschinen gleichzeitig zu bearbeiten, um die Produktivität zu steigern. Im Forschungsprojekt „Elektronische Deichsel für landwirtschaftliche Arbeitsmaschinen“ (EDA) wurde dieser Arbeitsverbund für Traktoren teilweise automatisiert: Von zwei mit GPS-Empfängern ausgestatteten Traktoren übernimmt ein Fahrzeug bemannt die Führungsrolle, während das zweite unbemannt und damit vollautomatisch folgt. Der Fahrer des Führungsfahrzeugs erhält die Möglichkeit, den Versatz des geführten Fahrzeugs in Längs- und Querrichtung zu definieren, den Betriebszustand des geführten Fahrzeugs einzusehen und für dieses verschiedene Fahrmodi festzulegen. Zur Auswahl stehen die Modi Parallelfahren, Folgen, Ignorieren und Wenden. Die Software der elektronischen Deichsel ist modular aufgebaut und gliedert sich in ein Kommunikationsmodul, ein Sicherheitsmodul sowie ein Pfadplanungs- und Regelmodul. Auf Basis der Forschungsergebnisse ist inzwischen ein reales Produkt für Premium-Traktoren entstanden.
Ein Traktor übernimmt bemannt die Führung, der zweite Traktor folgt unbemannt und vollautomatisch – so funktioniert die elektronische Deichsel EDA. (Foto: KIT, Lehrstuhl für Mobile Arbeitsmaschinen)

A manned tractor takes the lead, the second tractor follows unmanned and fully automatically. This is how the electronic drawbar EDA works. (Photo: KIT, Chair for Mobile Machines)


EDA – Electronic Drawbar for Agricultural Machines. Since the early beginnings of agriculture, simultaneous use of several working machines on large agricultural areas has been established to increase productivity. Under the “Electronic Drawbar for Agricultural Machines” (EDA) project, a convoy of tractors was automated partly. Of two tractors equipped with GPS receivers, the manned vehicle takes the lead, while the second unmanned tractor follows fully automatically. The driver of the leading vehicle can define the offset of the unmanned following vehicle in longitudinal and transverse direction, monitor the operation state of the unmanned vehicle, and specify various driving modes of the unmanned vehicle. The driving modes to be chosen are parallel driving, follow-me, ignore-me, and turn around. The software of the electronic drawbar is designed in a modular manner and comprises a communication module, a security module, and a path planning and control module. Based on the research results, a real product has meanwhile been commercialized for premium tractors. 

 OCOM – Organic Computing in Tractors. Mobile machines become increasingly complex and have to execute robust services under changing impacts. Under the interdisciplinary “Organic Computing in Off-highway Machines” (OCOM) project, KIT researchers develop a flexible overall machine management system tailored to these requirements. It is based on the so-called observer/controller architecture that monitors the tractor system and interferes whenever a given target function, such as fuel consumption or pollutant emission, can be improved. For this purpose, the observer acquires characteristic data about the current state of the system and assigns them to a cluster. This cluster is transmitted to the controller. A mapping function allocates optimum tractor adjustments to every cluster, as a result of which the system behavior is influenced according to the target function given by the user. A history and online evaluation module evaluates the consequences of the adjustments in practice. An adaptation module contains a model-based learning method that determines the potentials of new tractor adjustments in a given system state. This organic overall machine management is planned to be integrated in a real tractor. 
KNMF – Karlsruhe Nano Micro Facility. At this KIT user facility, representatives of research and industry from all over the world are provided with counseling by leading experts and, if the results are published, cost-free access to a unique portfolio of nano- and microtechnologies. According to the “Open Innovation” concept, KNMF allows for the nano- and microstructurization as well as for the characterization of a number of functional materials. 

EUMINAfab. The “European Infrastructure for Micro- and Nano Fabrication and Characterization“ EUMINAfab grants users from Europe and associated states free access to the latest micro- and nanoprocessing technologies at twelve partner institutions. Thanks to the combination of scientific expertise and technical equipment, EUMINAfab offers innovative solutions for micro- and nanoprocessing, functional structures, and components of materials of all types.
Energy Solution Center (EnSoC). The Energy Solution Center supports application-oriented energy research in the field of high-performance computing. Funded by KIT and several partners from industry, EnSoC represents a high-performance network bundling competences in energy economy, energy technology, IT, and solution methods. An example of a current EnSoC project, smart charge management for electric vehicles in tomorrow’s electricity grid, will be presented.

KIC InnoEnergy. The KIC InnoEnergy European consortium is establishing a sustainable, safe, and carbon-minimized energy supply system in Europe. The network is aimed at closing the innovation gap and strengthening Europe’s innovative capacity. KIC InnoEnergy is a network of 28 top companies, universities, research institutions, and business schools. Their close networking is planned to result in a more rapid development and commercialization of new energy products. Entrepreneurs will find professional support on the InnoEnergy HighwayTM. The European incubator focuses on sustainable energy and is characterized by a holistic approach.

Other Topics Presented by KIT at the 2012 Hannover Messe:
bioliq® (Hall 27, Stand H70). At an exhibition of the Renewable Energies Forum, KIT will present its bioliq® process for the production of customized fully synthetic fuels from residual biomass. At KIT, a pilot plant is under construction, where the complete technical process chain will be implemented. Products of the individual process stages can already be used economically. The high-quality synthesis gas produced by entrained-flow gasification in the third process step can be applied to produce basic chemical substances.

iZeus (Hall 25, Stand L25). At the stand of the federal government, KIT will present its project “iZEUS- intelligent Zero Emission Urban System“. This project focuses on the use of flexible loads in households for integration of renewable energies. A live demonstrator in the style of the “Energy Smart Home Lab” on the KIT campus will illustrate the intelligent combination of producers, consumers, and stores. In addition, researchers develop and test innovative services of added value for electromobility under iZEUS. Here, it is also concentrated on the use of electric vehicles in the commercial sector.

Competence E (Hall 25, Stand K21). At the “MobiliTec” joint stand of the Baden-Württemberg State Agency for Electromobility and Fuel Cell Technology, KIT will present its “Competence E” project. Under this project, researchers are working on electric energy stores and power trains for mobile and stationary applications. They are pursuing an integrated approach from the molecule to the battery to the electric motor with power electronics to the complete electric power train. Apart from novel cells, batteries, and power trains, they are developing new low-cost fabrication methods.

Hydrogen Infrastructure (Hall 27, Stand D40). Hydrogen research and infrastructure at KIT extends from generation by conventional methods as well as from residual biomass to storage and use to the safety of hydrogen as an energy carrier. This year, KIT will be provided with a hydrogen fuel station and two environmentally friendly hydrogen buses for the shuttle service between the KIT premises. Thanks to their serial hybrid drives with a fuel cell as electricity supplier, these hydrogen-driven electric buses do not produce any hazardous exhaust gas emissions. They only emit pure water vapor.

Superconductors in Energy Technology (Hall 13, Stand C51). At the “SuperConductingCity” joint stand, KIT will present innovative developments and applications relating to high-temperature superconductivity. It allows for energy transmission with hardly any losses, enhances energy efficiency, and facilitates safe integration of decentralized and regenerative energy sources in the grid. Among the applications are superconducting cables, current limiters, transformers, and generators.

Components Modeled on Nature (Hall 2, Stand D14). At the joint bionics stand, KIT will present innovative methods for the design of lightweight and long-lived technical components, which are derived from the growth principles of nature. KIT researchers have extended conventional computer optimization methods by simple graphical and experimental thinking tools that may be applied by any constructor or designer. Mechanics for the people.

Carbon Rim for Racing Cars (Hall 6, Stand B30). At the “Solutions Area Leichtbau“ joint stand, KA-RaceIng, the formula student team of KIT, will present a newly developed CFC rim. The rim produced by the VaRTM method (Vacuum-assisted Resin Transfer Molding) weighs 1450 grams only. Weight per rim is reduced by 2.5 kg compared to the aluminum rims usually used in the formula student.


Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,800 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

or, 04.04.2012


Monika Landgraf
Head of Corporate Communications, Chief Press Officer
Phone: +49 721 608-41150
Fax: +49 721 608-43658
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Contact for this press release:

Monika Landgraf
Press Officer
Phone: +49 721 608-21150
Fax: +49 721 608-41150
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