News – What`s happening in energy research

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ETA factory kick-off meeting.
© Sibylle Scheibner
Energy-efficient model factory

Model of the planned factory: The aim of the “ETA Factory” research project is to reduce the energy requirements in industrial production. For this purpose a process chain has been developed that is representative of the metal-processing industry.
© Gerd Hirn, BINE Informationsdienst

A simulation of the ETA Factory by TU Darmstadt.
© TU Darmstadt

Energy-efficient ETA Factory launched

The primary energy requirements of industrial production shall be reduced by up to 40 per cent. That is the aim of twelve companies and five research institutions and universities. In the newly launched “ETA Factory” research project, they are developing the energy-saving factory of the future under the auspices of the Technische Universität Darmstadt.

Science and industry are jointly researching how an entire industrial production process can be optimised in energy-based terms. A research factory is being created at TU Darmstadt for the research project “ETA Factory – Energy efficient factory for interdisciplinary technology and application research”, which was launched in May 2013. Based on an example production, the entire system within the factory, comprising the production chain and the building, shall be continually improved.

“We need to meet the challenge presented by the energy turnaround in an interdisciplinary manner,” said Professor Dr Eberhard Abele, Managing Director of the Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools at TU Darmstadt, during the launch event. “The ETA Factory should develop into a project that is internationally recognised as a flagship scheme,” he emphasised. In addition to research activities on the topic of energy efficiency, it shall also be used for providing interdisciplinary training for young engineers and for further training managers in industry.

Instead of improving the energy efficiency by optimising isolated sub-systems, the experts want to take into account all the components in the overall system within a factory. The integration is intended to open up greater savings potential. Ranging from the machines to the building equipment and the building envelope, in this model factory everything will be aimed at optimally using and saving energy.

Implementing energy efficient production in an interdisciplinary manner

Mechanical engineers, construction engineers and architects are jointly working on developing the highly efficient factory. In order to analyse and optimise production plants for metal processing, the researchers are reconstructing a production process chain used by industrial partner Bosch Rexroth for producing hydraulic pump components. The chain includes soft and hard machining cutting processes, heat treatment as well as diverse intermediate and final cleaning processes. The factory’s machinery will comprise machine tools, cleaning machines and a furnace for heat treatment.

Whereas measures for improving the resource and energy efficiency of individual production machines have already been largely exhausted, there is still largely untapped potential for further utilising the waste heat created during the machine operation by linking the heat sources and sinks. This energy can be stored using thermal storage systems and energy transformation technology and can be released at the right time where it is required. For example, waste heat from the heat treatment will be used in the factory as a heat source for the cleaning plants. It will cool the machine tools via an absorption chiller or provide air conditioning for the factory space in accordance with requirements.

These technologies need to be further developed. In addition, the possibilities should be utilised that result from interacting with the factory building and its inherent potential, for example for recovering energy. The project partners assume that the integration of previously independent areas will create savings of up to 40 per cent compared with the current state.

The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology is funding this project with a contribution of 7.9 million euros.



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