Ruhr-Universität Bochum sets up eighth Research Department

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No. 6 - Bochum, 13.01.2016

Ruhr-Universität Bochum sets up eighth Research Department

Interdisciplinary team researches “Closed Carbon Cycle Economy”

Closed carbon cycles: technological and social issues

Even though the climate change conference in Paris achieved meaningful results, society still has a long way to go to rid itself of CO2 emissions. To get ahead on this way, it would help if carbon moved in closed cycles and, for example, would not leak into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide when fossil fuels are burned. Possible methods to accomplish this task are being researched by an interdisciplinary team at the newly-established Research Department “Closed Carbon Cycle Economy” at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB).

Transition requires far-reaching changes

A transition to closed carbon cycles requires far-reaching changes. “It affects the way electricity or thermal heat for buildings are generated, the way process heat for the industry and energy for mobility are provided and, not least, the way carbonaceous raw materials are handled in the industry,” explains Prof Roland Span, Dean at the Department of Mechanical Engineering and one of the two designated spokespeople at the new RUB Research Department.

The conversion poses not just a technological challenge, but also questions pertaining to social structures that are necessary for the realisation of closed carbon cycles. An example: it takes more than novel technologies in order to improve methods of energy generation or to store CO2 in a sustainable manner. The methods have to be politically enforceable and widely accepted by society.

“This entails much more than simply fostering acceptance,” adds Prof Christian Pielow, Managing Director at the Institute for Mining and Energy Law and the second designated spokesperson at the new Research Department. “The economic and legal environment, moral values, our leisure behaviour – all these and many more aspects affect a development that will have such far-reaching consequences, and they are in turn affected by the imminent changes.”

Complex subject matter requires interdisciplinary collaboration

In the eighth Research Department at RUB, researchers from the fields of engineering and natural sciences, humanities and social sciences collaborate in an interdisciplinary environment. “This interdisciplinary structure highlights the strengths of our university, which boasts a wide range of disciplines,” says RUB Rector Prof Dr Axel Schölmerich.

By admitting associated members from third-party research institutes, the Research Department is planning to spread beyond the campus. “Thanks to the University Alliance Ruhr and other established cooperation networks in the region, the conditions are ideal for us to tackle this complex topic at all relevant research levels,” continues Schölmerich.

In addition to partner universities in Duisburg-Essen and in Dortmund, the Research Department is also going to involve the Bochum University of Applied Sciences as well as the Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT in Oberhausen, the Max Planck Institutes for Chemical Energy Conversion and Coal Research in Mülheim, the Institute of Propulsion Technology at the German Aerospace Center DLR in Cologne, and the Forschungszentrum Jülich.

Fostering young talent – a vital concern

According to the traditions fostered at the Research Departments, the nurturing of early career researchers is a vital concern. Postdocs will be admitted as Young Researchers, in order to work on their own research questions as well as to become involved in cooperation projects.

Editorial journalist

Dr. Julia Weiler
Press Office Ruhr University Bochum

Further information

Prof Dr-Ing. Roland Span, Institute of Thermo and Fluid Dynamics, Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Germany, phone: +49/0234/32-23033