In Göttingen energy research is carried out as basic research in the areas of energy transformation on surfaces and geo-sciences and as applied research on renewable raw materials and on questions from the social sciences. Energy research in the respective disciplines is embedded in the structures of the institutes, departments and faculties, as well as in joint projects of the graduate college and special research division. Energy research in Göttingen is to be bundled through interlinking within the EFZN and is to complement the energy work done by the EFZN with regard to basic sciences as well as applied research with a focus on social sciences.
The research topics of energy research in Göttingen are the result of many years of activities in the various institutions at this location. They deliver individual contributions to energy research and are to tie in with and complement the applied problems of the EFZN from the side of basic research with a broad spectrum of topics and methods. No thematic bundling of the individual energy research projects in Göttingen is planned.
In the area of molecular and material sciences energy conversion processes and dynamic processes on surfaces at molecular level are investigated. In this area Professor Alec Wodtke (Humboldt Professor in the Faculty of Chemistry and the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry) represents chemistry of surface processes with regard to the fields of heterogeneous catalysis and photocatalysis, photovoltaics as well as fuel cells. At the centre of his research lies the investigation of energy conversion on surfaces with methods of state-of-the-art laser, molecular beam and ultra-high vacuum technologies. This research is embedded in the International Centre for Advanced Studies of Energy Conversion (ICASEC) as well as in the DFG Special Research Area (SFB 1073) “Atomic scale control of energy conversion” that brings together working groups from the Faculties of Chemistry and Physics on the problem of energy conversion under the leadership of Professor Christian Joos.
Energetic use of renewable agricultural and forestry raw materials requires the consideration of and the adherence to economic, ecological and social standards. By way of example the agricultural cash crop of sugar beet is being investigated at the Institute for Sugar Beet Research at the University of Göttingen under the leadership of Professor Bernward Märländer to establish its potential as energy source in order to overcome the strong focus on maize. The concentration of maize cultivation is very high in the region which leads to ecological disadvantages and a low social acceptance. Once the potential of sugar beet for energetic use has been established, specific cultivation objectives are to be deducted. Requirements with regard to the production system, including business economic aspects are established and technological consequences are estimated under ecological and economic perspectives with the aim of sustainable development. Other persons involved in this research area are Professor Ludwig Theuvsen (Faculty of Agricultural Sciences), Professor Johannes Isselstein (Centre for Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Use), as well as Professor Hans Ruppert from the Interdisciplinary Centre for Sustainable Development and Professor Norbert Lamersdorf (Faculty of Forestry and Forest Ecology). The holistic approach aims at formulating recommendations in support of the sustainable development of biomass cultivation. This project offers excellent opportunities of interlinking the working groups with production-technological, economic and ecological focuses.
Energy research in the area of hydrogeology of georeservoirs is coordinated by Professor Martin Sauter (Faculty of Geosciences and Geography). In applied geology the flow, thermal, mass transport as well as geomechanical processes in deep georeservoirs are investigated with the objective of quantifying their storage capacity for fluids (hydrocarbons, CO2 etc.) and their energy content (heat) and of forecasting future system conditions under operative conditions of use. In this context an application for large apparatuses to fund a large-scale tri-axis press to examine the properties of large-scale fractured rock samples under reservoir conditions (up to 200 degrees Celsius, 120 MPa) was approved (investment volume of approx. two million euros).
The term “social scientific energy research“ summarises the cross-cutting research from the areas of economic, social and legal sciences. A thematic focus area of the scientists of Göttingen is the interdisciplinary research on decentralised energy generation from regenerative sources, as can be seen in the DFG Graduate College 1703: “Resource efficiency in company networks” headed by Professor Jutta Geldermann (Faculty of Economic Sciences). Potential for associate projects in the EFZN exists in view of the complementary nature of expertise, because in addition to aspects of agriculture, engineering and natural sciences primarily problems of social sciences, psychology, economics and law are dealt with. Scientists involved in these areas are Professor Lutz Kolbe (Business Informatics), Professor Kilian Bizer (Institutions Economics, Environmental and Regional Economics), as well as Professor Thomas Mann and Professor Peter-Tobias Stoll who represent administrative law and/or international business law and environmental law.