Research Highlights

Headed by the Chair of Thermodynamics, the DFG Research Unit “Multifunctional Changes to Materials and Energy” was set up at the Institute of Combustion and Gas Dynamics (IVG). Four groups from the IVG are working with three groups from KIT (Karlsruhe) to increase the flexibility of combustion processes to produce not only mechanical work but also high-quality basic chemicals. The very sophisticated complementary research facilities at the IVG, including shock tubes, flame ionisation mass spectrometry and engine test benches, are used in this major project to explore complex high-temperature processes. The Reactive Fluids group within the IVG has succeeded in conducting spatial temperature and concentration distributions in a reactor for nano­particle synthesis on pilot plant scale using laser measurement techniques. Their work in turn provides data for the Fluid Dynamics team developing simulation strategies for this important process engineering method. By securing major computing time resources, they were able to ­perform ultraprecise simulations of technical combustion systems on over 60,000 processors simultaneously.

The focus at the Chair of Manufacturing Technology is on additive manufacturing, also known as “3D printing”. Here complex geometries are not cost drivers, which opens up unprecedented design freedom. “HiPerLS” is a collaborative pro­ject in which innovative concepts in additive manufacturing are implemented. The project, which is receiving 1.5 million euros in government funding, is aimed at significantly improving the laser sintering process with a novel scan strategy and hardware. More traditional manufacturing processes nevertheless still offer plenty of potential: In “IPRO – Intelligent Process Control in Foun­dries”, the Mathematics for Engineers group is ­developing diagnostic software with which to analyse large quantities of data to identify causal relationships between the quality characteristics of a process and the underlying parameters. Eight companies are currently testing the software in operation.

Mobility and logistics are socially and economically highly relevant topics and the focal point of several research groups in the Department. The main interests at the Chair of Mechatronics are electromobility, driver assistance systems and robotics. In electromobility the focus is on fleet trials involving several hundreds of vehicles in publicly funded projects PREMIUM, colognE-mobil and Ruhrauto E. The main objectives of these projects are to research the real use of (partly) electric vehicles and establish intermodal traffic systems and car-sharing concepts. In driver assistance systems, the researchers are moving towards the goal of highly automated driving, an area in which work is underway on detecting movement intention of transport users and the accompanying human-machine interfaces supported by self-developed drive simulators. Applications for cable-driven robotics and parallel manipulators are the backbone of the activities in Robotics, where prototype assemblies for high-bay storage with innovative storage and retrieval systems (Ruhr Excellence Cluster) and systems for the manufacture and maintenance of major components (Cablebot EU project) are being ­designed and realised.

Mobility is also one of the central themes of the Business Administration teaching unit. In International Automotive Management, novel vehicle and user concepts have been developed in collaboration with mechanical engineers and psychologists in the “NRW Design Studio”. ­Electromobility projects include the Ziel2 project “New business models in electromobility”, “DEAL – Service innovations of independent multibrand dealers in transition to holistic ­electromobile ­solution providers”, and colognE-Mobil I and II. The CAR Institute concentrates on electro­mobility and is represented in three federal projects with carmakers and consortium leaders Ford and BMW. CAR also analyses in­centive behaviour in the German car market in a monthly research ­review and organises the ­annual CAR Symposium, the largest German-language conference for the automotive and ­automotive supply industry.

The main area of research at the Chair of Thermal Process Engineering is the separation process of adsorption, e.g. to remove sulphur-containing molecules from natural gases, toxins from air or water from ultrapure solvents. Three DFG projects were conducted in this area, including under its Priority Programme “Porous media with defined pore structure in process engineering”. A major piece of new equipment was commissioned for this work; it is used in the characterisation of adsorbent agents such as activated ­carbon or zeolites, which trap odours and toxins from the air in solid matter.

The IWW Water Center, an affiliated institute of the UDE, plays a particularly successful role in European consortia, and the Water Technology research group works with it in several applied research projects. In the EU CERA-Water research project, for example, their work advanced the ­development of ceramic nanofiltration membranes and explored the use of fixed-bed activated carbon filters for micropollutant elimination in sewage system processes as part of several projects with the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).