The work on bioenergy is one focus of the RE program and aims at the development of value chains from basic research to application. For the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass thermochemical process such as rapid pyrolysis or hydrothermal liquefaction are used, which are energy-dense bio-oils obtained, which can be upgraded by conditioning and upgrading to various fuels. To scale the processes, the KIT operates e.g. the bioliq pilot plant, unique in the world, for the synthesis of approx. 50 kg synthetic biogenic fuel per hour. Furthermore, biochemical methods are used to convert, e.g., synthesis gas into platform molecules. New biomasses such as microalgae are also being investigated in complete value chains. Particularly effective is their digestion by electroporation.
The topic, headed by T. Kohl, is working on the scientific and technological challenges of geothermal energy. This base load energy source can be used to produce heat and electricity. The development potential of geothermal energy, especially in southern Germany, offers enormous potential and must be further developed for environmentally sound economic use.
Concentrating solar thermal power plants use mirrors to focus sunlight. Thanks to the high energy fluxes and temperatures achieved and the good storage properties of heat, efficient power plant processes based on solar energy and capable of producing both base and peak power can be implemented. High-temperature heat can also be used directly in industrial processes. Research of KIT covers liquid metals as heat transfer media for the use of solar thermal energy. For testing these liquid metals, the “SOMMER” pilot plant was built.