DFG and Fraunhofer fund trilateral projects in the field of knowledge transfer

The German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft are again funding trilateral projects for the transfer of knowledge from DFG-funded projects to industry. The Joint Committee of the DFG and the Fraunhofer board selected five projects from 16 submitted full proposal applications after an evaluation of the written proposals and an additional online appraisal from this year‘s call for proposals. The new projects, in which universities, Fraunhofer institutes and companies cooperate, are funded by the DFG and the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft with a total of around 4.5 million euros for three years. The three partners should further develop the results of DFG-funded basic research on the basis of a joint work program.

The rights and obligations of the three partners are regulated by a cooperation agreement. This gives companies the opportunity to participate in research innovations at an early stage. The Fraunhofer experts take the lead in the exploitation of the project results for the application partners or for other interested parties. In return, the universities receive a fixed percentage of the proceeds.

Two of the five funded trilateral projects are coordinated on the university side by professors from the TUHH, namely:

„Development of an intelligent Digital Twin for the prediction and control of the fluidized bed spray granulation process  conditions by means of transient flowsheet simulation“ (Acronym TwinGuide), funding budget for TUHH: 648,000 Euro

(Project coordination: Professor Dr.-Ing. Stefan Heinrich, TU Hamburg, Professor Dr.-Ing. Przemyslaw Komarnicki Ph.D., Fraunhofer Institute für Factory Operation and Automation IFF, Magdeburg; Application partner: IPT-Pergande GmbH, Weißandt-Gölzau)

Research Content:

The main aim of this transfer project is increasing the efficiency of processes from chemical engineering by the development of an intelligent Digital Twin. This will be demonstrated using the example of the fluidized bed spray granulation process. The Digital Twin reproduces the state of the physical plant and predicts its future behavior, enable reliable control of the process. The intelligence of the Digital Twin is defined by the underlying models, which will be obtained by comprehensive data acquisition with continuous offline and online analysis methods. The high attention to detail of the models result in decision recommendations available faster the real-time, which allows predictions as well as process optimization steps. This is developed as a process-specific knowledge module that calls a flowsheet module, calibrates and consolidates the data. The results of the simulations are interpreted by soft sensors. A communication gateway will be developed that is responsible for the interaction between the simulation results and the digital process picture.

The fluidized bed spray granulation model will be developed by experiments with a lab-scale plant at Hamburg University of Technology by application of statistical design of experiments. Unwanted process conditions will be deliberately adjusted in order to define the borders of stable process operation. The resulting model is implemented in the flowsheet simulation software Dyssol which has been developed during the DFG predecessor project (SPP 1679). By applying this software tool, the development procedure of the Digital Twin can be easily transferred to other processes and process chains of solids process engineering with minimal effort.

Based on the future process states derived by the simulations, recommendations for actions will be implemented into the process control system of the plant. An optimization algorithm determines those parameters that result in a stable operation. The implementation into the process control system is conducted at the industrial partner, the company Pergande Group. Besides the operation of lab-scale plants, the transferability to larger plants will be demonstrated. The extension of current assistant systems will result in a competitive advantage for the distribution of new plants and is a unique feature in the field of fluidized bed technology for the industrial partner. In addition, it is assumed that the efficiency in the field of contract manufacturing can be increased by about 15 % due to a higher availability of the plants.

„MEMS-basierte parametrische Verstärker für Reichweitenoptimierung drahtloser Sensornetze“ (Acronym MEMS-paramps), funding budget for TUHH: 325,000 Euro

(Project coordination: Professor Dr.-Ing. Alexander Kölpin, TU Hamburg, Privatdozentin Dr.-Ing. Christine Ruffert, Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Micro Systems IPMS, Cottbus; Application partner: Actemium BEA GmbH, Spremberg)

Research Content:

In many sparsely populated regions, only a weak mobile communications infrastructure can be found. In this context, digitization of monitoring stations is a major challenge; be it for flood protection, groundwater/water, forest fire, construction, infrastructure or terrain monitoring as well as in digital agriculture. Especially the radio interface for smart sensors with cloud applications or centralized monitoring stations limits the achievable range in many cases, which makes coverage in highly distributed scenarios difficult. On the one hand, the required high ranges are problematic, on the other hand, an efficient use of the battery capacity is mandatory, which is limited in remote locations without a central energy supply. In many cases, long term self-sufficient operation can be ensured via energy harvesting, e.g. with the help of photovoltaic cells. But especially in professional and industrial use, there are many applications where solar energy or other sources are not available in sufficient quantities or size and weight limitations prohibit energy harvesting concepts. Therefore, there is a great need for purely battery-powered wireless sensor nodes that nevertheless guarantee a long runtime. At the same time, the individual measuring locations are often widely distributed, which requires a lot of energy for data transmission and reception.

The focus of the project is an energy-efficient generic sensor node. Since the radio interface has the highest energy demand of all components, this is the focus of this project. Based on an optimized system approach, an innovative, power-saving reactance amplifier technology will be specifically added to the radio interface by the Institute of Radio Frequency Technology (E-3) at the Hamburg University of Technology in order to increase the range of the wake-up receiver (WuRX) designed in the DFG predecessor project (FOR 1508) in an energy-efficient manner. New technological approaches will be used to extend the technical usability and thus pave the way towards commercialization of the system. The basic idea is to generate energy for the amplification from a high-frequency electromechanical excitation, which is possible thanks to a mechanical oscillator resonance of a micromechanical (MEMS) capacitor to be specially designed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems, Cottbus. This would solve the two major challenges of the existing WuRX - energy consumption and short range. The sensor node equipped with a "MEMS-paramp" reactance amplifier thus becomes the ideal solution for professional sensor networks distributed over wide areas. The application partner Actemium BEA will demonstrate the applicability of the system in the field on its automation systems and machines, for example in conveyor technology for open-cast mining or decentralized measuring points in post-mining areas.