.

News – What`s happening in energy research

read short description
subscribe News

The ETA factory was officially opened at the beginning of March 2016. The building and production technology in the research and teaching factory are linked and permit very energy-efficient operation.
© Gerhard Hirn, BINE Informationsdienst
Energy efficient model factory
07.03.2016

Official opening (from left): Martin Beck (PTW), Professor Jens Schneider (TU Darmstadt), Professor Eberhard Abele (PTW), State Minister Tarek Al-Wazir (Hessian Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transport and Regional Development), Parliamentary State Secretary Brigitte Zypries (BMWi), Professor Hans Jürgen Prömel (President TU Darmstadt), Rolf Najork (CEO Bosch Rexroth).
© Gerhard Hirn, BINE Informationsdienst

A newly developed energy storage flywheel in the basement of the factory building caps peak loads.
© Gerhard Hirn, BINE Informationsdienst

TU Darmstadt opens research factory

Last week, the ETA model factory officially opened its doors. Here, scientists at the Technical University (TU) Darmstadt are researching under real conditions and at full scale how industry can use energy more efficiently by linking all building and production components. By considering the entire system – consisting of machines, energy storage systems, building technology and the building envelope – the intention is to reduce the primary energy requirement in production by 40 per cent.

Last week, the ETA model factory officially opened its doors. Here, scientists at the Technical University (TU) Darmstadt are researching under real conditions and at full scale how industry can use energy more efficiently by linking all building and production components. By considering the entire system – consisting of machines, energy storage systems, building technology and the building envelope – the intention is to reduce the primary energy requirement in production by 40 per cent.
Around three dozen companies and research institutions are working in the factory of the future. Using this large-scale “research unit”, known as the ETA factory, they want to realise previously untapped potential for saving energy. The project is being managed by the Institute of Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools (PTW) at TU Darmstadt. An industry working group disseminates the findings into the wider production technology research sector. ETA stands for Energy Efficiency, Technology and Application Centre. In the engineering sciences, the Greek letter "eta" also denotes efficiency, i.e. a key energy indicator.

How the ETA factory originated is described by Professor Eberhard Abele, Director of the Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools, Mechanical Engineering Department: “The vision to build an energy efficiency factory on the campus was inspired by the positive experience with the Teaching Factory for Production Management, which was previously realised on the Lichtwiese Campus.”

Brigitte Zypries, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy said at the opening: “Increasing the energy efficiency is the key to successfully implementing the energy transition, whereby there is particular potential in industrial production. The joint ETA factory project is precisely aimed at researching this potential.”

Factory as a large-scale research unit

The ETA factory building has a floor area of about 810 square metres. Unlike previous sheds, it is not merely an envelope for production plants but an integral part of them. The machinery and building work together and enable a particularly efficient use of energy. Holistic system: At a 1:1 scale, the factory depicts a typical production process, from the raw materials to the finished part, with control discs for hydraulic axial piston pumps rolling off the line at the end of the production chain.
The holistic approach adopted by the ETA factory enables 15 to 20 per cent more energy to be saved in addition to optimising individual components. Compared with a conventional factory, the new concept enables savings of up to 40 per cent.

In addition to improving the energy efficiency of individual production facilities, the focus is also on linking them in an energy-efficient manner. For example, waste heat can be used in processes that require heat. As part of this strategy, the machine peripherals, building services technology and the factory building are also taken into consideration in addition to the production plants. For example, the waste heat from the machine tools is used to provide other plant systems with heat or to heat the hall. The waste heat from heat treatment plants can be used to heat cleaning baths or provide cooling using sorption technology. The production building can serve as a heat sink for low-temperature waste heat. It can also be used for generating solar thermal heat or cold water by releasing heat to the environment. New technologies have been integrated for test purposes; for example a newly developed energy storage flywheel is used to buffer peak loads. The facade covered with capillary matting makes it possible to heat, cool or provide air conditioning with little energy: the building’s thermal insulation consists of foam concrete and the building structure is almost completely recyclable. The machines, technical infrastructure and building are all optimised in energy efficiency terms.

Key research areas

The subject of the research is the entire system, consisting of the building envelope and technical building services, the process technology and production, as well as the planning, recording and assessment of energy flows and the energy recovery, storage and reuse. In the model factory, researchers and developers can learn under real conditions how all subsystems and actors can be networked as well as which couplings are possible and transferable into practice.

Using the ETA factory as a large-scale research unit, the Darmstadt researchers want to investigate how they can realise previously untapped potential for saving energy. The construction phase of the ETA factory lasted about 16 months. The total project costs for the ETA factory amount to around 15 million euros, of which eight million euros were contributed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

(gh)

notepad

BINE subscription

Subscribe to newsletter

Addresses

Project coordination
TU Darmstadt, PTW

Links

ETA factory
Further details on the ETA factory

Video on the ETA factory
The video shows the creation of the ETA factory: from the idea and laying of the foundation stone to the finished factory (in German only)

Links

Energy storage systems
Recent reports on research, development and demonstration of energy storage systems