Energy Industry and Environmental Technology

The energy industry is currently undergoing great structural changes: Renewable energies are becoming more and more important and conventional generation systems have to withstand the increased pressure of competition. In both areas, Fraunhofer ILT offers powerful process technologies to make the respective components even more energy-efficient and cost-effective.

For renewable energies, Fraunhofer ILT is working on manufacturing issues relating to organic and inorganic photovoltaics, in which high-performance interconnection technologies are integrated into highly productive plants. Particularly in the field of organic solar cells, Fraunhofer ILT provides state-of-the-art coating, laser-based thin-film modification and structuring systems in a roll-to-roll process. These are characterized by particularly high flexibility.

In addition, Fraunhofer ILT has developed technology that can improve power and efficiency in traditional areas of energy production. In the future, additive manufacturing methods (laser additive manufacturing) will be used to produce turbine components for even higher combustion temperatures and, thus, higher energy efficiency. Furthermore, laser cladding makes it possible to efficiently repair worn turbine parts. The engineers at Fraunhofer ILT have already received several awards in this area. In addition, they have developed novel methods to produce cooling air holes in turbine blades or to structure the surfaces of solar cells for an improvement in absorption.

In addition to the energy sector, Fraunhofer ILT is also addressing a wide range of tasks in the production and recovery of raw materials and valuable materials. In the field of electronics, for example, rare raw materials can be selected and recovered with high accuracy from disused mobile phones via plasma-assisted analysis.

Laser cladding for repair and functionalization

Repair of the front rotor of a jet engine.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.

Repair of the front rotor of a jet engine.

Even minor damage or normal wear on turbine components creates high costs, so repairing and overhauling such components with flexible laser processes are worthwhile. In particular laser cladding meets the turbine industry’s high material and accuracy requirements. Based on 3D data models of undamaged components, such laser-based systems can apply the original material via the powder-feed nozzle and laser beam to the damaged areas in a highly precise layer-by-layer manner. The worn or incomplete component is thus regenerated true to its original contour. The low level of heat input into the weld zone protects the surrounding material and keeps the distortion within close tolerances. Moreover, the fine microstructure of the applied material fulfills high mechanical and tribological requirements. Fraunhofer ILT also uses the repair procedure to produce components additively, for example tool inserts made of graded materials.

Recycling with laser measurement technology

Contactless exposure and unsoldering of circuit board components by means of laser radiation in a recycling process of the “ADIR” project.
© Fraunhofer ILT, Aachen, Germany.

Contactless exposure and unsoldering of circuit board components by means of laser radiation in a recycling process of the “ADIR” project.

Within the context of »urban mining« and the increasing scarcity of raw materials, the importance of efficiently recovering rare, strategically important recyclables is growing. Scientists at Fraunhofer ILT are developing methods to identify the physical and chemical properties of valuable components and elements of old electronic devices and to specifically extract these elements.

A pulsed laser beam detects the substances without contacting them; initially it penetrates the upper layers of the components locally. Subsequently, the material is analyzed by the method of laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). Here, the laser beam excites the internal material to generate an optical emission, which is then analyzed spectroscopically. The material in components or in entire component groups can be selectively excited and quickly detected in grid measurements so that, for example, circuit boards can be evaluated as multi-element maps. Apart from recycling processes, the developed technology can also be used to conduct quality assurance of metallic components or to characterize raw materials.

Project Results 2017

Project Results 2016

Here you will find a selection of current collaborative projects

“ADIR”

Next generation urban mining - Automated disassembly, separation and recovery of valuable materials from electronic equipment

“ALISE”

Diode-pumped Alexandrite Laser Instrument for Next Generation Satellite-based Earth Observation

“ComMUnion”

Net-shape joining technology to manufacture 3D multi-materials components based on metal alloys and thermoplastic composites

“EVEREST”

Development of Intelligent Process and System Technology for Extreme High-Speed Laser Material Deposition

“futureAM”

Next Generation Additive Manufacturing

“LextrA”

Laser-based additive manufacturing of components for extreme requirements out of innovative intermetallic materials

“PhotonFlex”

Innovative technologies for manufacturing organic solar cells

“ProLMD”

Process and System Technology for Hybrid Production of Large Components with Laser Material Deposition (LMD)

“TriboLas-3D”

Process Development for the Laser-Based Production of Site-Selective Tribological Layer Systems on 3D Surfaces

Contact

Dipl.-Ing. Hans-Dieter Hoffmann

“Lasers and Optics”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-206
-> Send E-Mail

 

Dr.-Ing. Arnold Gillner

“Ablation and Joining”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-148
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Prof. Dr.-Ing. Johannes Henrich Schleifenbaum

“Additive Manufacturing
and Functional Layers”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-398
-> Send E-Mail

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Reinhard Noll

“Measurement Technology
and EUV Sources”

 

Telephone +49 241 8906-138
-> Send E-Mail