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Energy of the future

Energy of the future

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Our major research projects focus on technologies that utilize renewable sources of energy and new systems that store the energy obtained in this way. This helps conserve fossil energy reserves and provides greater inde-pendence from energy imports from politically unstable regions. To bolster our expertise and to accelerate the development process, we are entering into development partnerships with other companies, research institutions, and, not least, universities, with parti-cular emphasis on organic photovolta-ics, utilization of marine energy, and lithium-ion batteries. We are also in-volved in the high-tech strategy for climate protection, which was initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in 2007.

 

We are currently working with BASF SE and Heliatek GmbH to develop solar cells based on organic dyes, which can be manufactured much more cost-effectively. The films that will be produced will be made up of several thin translucent layers coated with dyes. They will open up a whole range of applications. For example, it is conceivable that they could be used on windows or on car roofs, or even as foldaway cell-phone chargers. This technology is slated for market launch in 2015. By then, however, researchers will have to improve its efficiency from around five percent to at least ten percent.

 

In cooperation with partners, Bosch Rexroth is using the experience it has gained from manufacturing wind tur-bines to develop high-performance drives for marine energy plants. The first prototypes – with Bosch Rexroth transmission technology and hydraulic components – have been installed off the coasts of Norway and Great Brit-ain. Towers anchored in the seabed are equipped with rotors that are driv-en by tidal currents. The technology is still very much in its infancy (much as wind energy was 40 years ago). De-spite this it offers enormous potential that is well worth tapping. Marine en-ergy is said to have the capacity to generate as much energy as roughly 100 nuclear power stations. For ex-ample, the Seaflow pilot marine power plant off the south coast of Great Britain generates enough electricity to supply 300 households. In the years to come, additional pilot plants will con-firm whether the technology really is suitable for operation under water.

 

Batteries form the heart of hybrid vehi-cles and electrically-powered cars. Although most batteries used in to-day’s hybrid drives are of the nickel-metal hydride variety, the future be-longs to lithium-ion rechargeable bat-tery technology, which Bosch already employs successfully in its power tools. This is because lithium-ion re-chargeable batteries are smaller, light-er, and lose virtually no charge when not in use for long periods. However, before this technology can be used in automobile drive systems, both its power density and range must be in-creased. That is why Bosch is partici-pating in the BMBF’s innovation alli-ance “Lithium-Ion Battery 2015,” along with BASF, Evonik Industries, LiTec, and VW, to help drive forward the development of lithium-ion batteries for utilization in electric drives. What’s more, we have also agreed to form a joint venture with Samsung to develop, manufacture, and market lithium-ion battery systems.