challenge of our time is to find clean, economically viable and reliable ways
of providing energy. With the special
exhibition energie.wenden, the Deutsches Museum is addressing this global
issue. The exhibition explains how
energy is generated, stored and distributed, as well as energy requirements and
utilization, and places these topics in an historical and global context.
In the context of energy transition the role of fossil fuels in the energy supply system needs revising. The question thus arises of how exactly to achieve a climate and environmentally friendly energy supply? Nuclear power has many conflicting opinions; renewable plant-based raw materials can be widely used as multi-talented renewables, yet their cultivation is limited; hydropower and geothermal energy can only supply energy where these resources are available; solar and wind energy are fundamentally volatile. Every conventional and alternative energy source entails characteristic challenges. To tackle these challenges we need a social, political and economical dialogue. Yet this discussion will be worth embracing when considering the final goal: a sustainable energy generation!
Model Castor V/19, M 1:10 (2015/2015) by GNS Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service mbHDeutsches Museum
A castor is a dry cask transport and storage container for spent fuel elements. The modern V/19 container is 6 meters high and can accommodate 19 fuel elements. To guarantee safety, it is made of multiple layers of shielding materials and must be capable of withstanding a drop from a height of 9 meters without damage.
This turbine as manufactured has a screen and a longer float. It is a mini hydropower station. As water flows through it, the rotor turns and produces electricity by means of a generator. The power plant is easy to install and operate and has a minimal impact on the environment.
The solar panels with a size of 18m2 are automatically adjusted to the sun’s position during a day, such that the yield is maximised constantly. In central Europe the yield is 4000 kWh on average, which equals the demand of a typical household.
Wind power can also be harnessed as an off-the-grid and independent power supply. Revolver, the portable wind turbine, produces enough electricity in a light breeze to keep a laptop running, charge a cell phone, or power a radio.
Energy Storage and Transport
Energy storage systems allow time-based energy distribution. Electrical energy can only be stored directly in small amounts and for a very short period of time. This is why it is generally converted into other forms of energy, like chemical and mechanical energy, first and then stored. In addition to bridging over a shortage, the various forms of storage can help control power grids: in the former, capacity is important, in the latter the power.
Grids make it possible to distribute energy over a wide geographic area. In a grid, producers must constantly supply exactly the same amount of energy as consumers take off of it. Since grids are (still) not self-regulating, this balance must constantly be created.
Model Regulated Grid Transformer with ECOTAP VPD (2016/2016) by Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen GmbHDeutsches Museum
This transformer is part of the smart grid. It automatically regulates the fluctuating feed-in from solar-power plants and wind turbines: the transformer raises or lowers the voltage depending on the situation which stabilizes the grid and thereby maximizes the production of renewable sources of energy.
Compared to other storage systems, flywheels provide a high output within the shortest amount of time. In this model, a 60 kilograms cylinder made of carbon fibers spins at a speed of 45,000 rotations per minute so that for 216 seconds up to 60 kilowatts is available. The response time is less than 0.1 seconds.
This multi-charging station uses standard bicycle batteries and at the same time serves as a modular, stationary storage battery for households with their own solar collectors. Using this system, around half of the power requirement of a 4-person household can be met.
Mobility accounts for a major part in our everyday energy consumption, as mobile means capable of being moved, flexible. A perfect description for our modern lifestyle: it is natural today that roads, waterways, railways and flight routes connect people and countries, make us mobile and enhance the quality of our lives.
Transport, however, is very dependent on petroleum. It contributes to climate change and pollutes the environment with particulates and noise. Those wishing to choose sustainable forms of mobility must carefully weigh how to travel in their daily lives and on journeys. Vehicles with alternative drive systems generally run on battery power or a fuel cell powered by hydrogen.
BMW i3 Traction Electric Motor Type EMP242; cross-sectional model (2016/2016) by BMW AGDeutsches Museum
Electricity flows through the coil inside the motor, generating a magnetic field which is used to produce motive power. This is how electric motors convert electrical into mechanical energy. Depending on the on-board battery, this motor gives the BMW i3 a range of 160 to 300 kilometers.
Hydrogen and electric power are both being studied for use in aviation. Proof is e-Genius, an electric-powered motor glider that set a world record in 2013 flying 405 kilometers. It is based on the Hydrogenius, a hydrogen aircraft also designed by IFB.
Developed and built by the Institute of Aircraft Design of the University of Stuttgart, the first flight of Icaré 2 was in 1996. Since then, this first practical solar-powered aircraft has been continually researched and improved. With Klaus Ohlman as pilot, it has set numerous world records.
Deutsches Museum, Munich
Find out more about our special exhibition from February 2017 - November 2018: