The voestalpine synergy platform 2019, the Group’s research and development conference, focused on electrification and brought together 80 voestalpine employees and external specialists to discuss climate protection and electromobility.
Scheduled between CWIEME 2019 (coil winding trade fair) and the Formula E race in Berlin, part of the voestalpine European Races, it was logical that electrification would be an important topic at this year’s voestalpine synergy platform. Eighty participants from across all voestalpine divisions, including researchers, developers, sales experts, and strategists, joined external experts in Berlin on May 23 and 24.
Climate crisis and electromobility
The title of this year’s synergy platform reflected the program: electrification. The spectrum of topics ranged from securing tomorrow’s electricity supplies through to the future of electromobility. For example, in his presentation Gerhard Christiner, CTO of Austrian Power Grid, indicated the complex challenges resulting from transformation of the energy system and transport of electricity generated from renewables right across Europe.
He was preceded by Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research who highlighted the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He believes the orderly transition to a climate-friendly society is the only way of stopping further temperature increases.
Ideas at voestalpine
The contributions from the voestalpine companies on current developments in sustainable production and electromobility stimulated intensive discussions.
- Impact of electrification and decarbonization on the Donawitz site
- Producing hydrogen through electrolysis in the H2FUTURE project
- Modular battery cases
- High-bay warehousing for 2nd life use of vehicle batteries
- Intelligent compacore® lamination stacks
- Fixing systems for PV modules on land and at sea
"The two strongest revenue-generating industries for voestalpine, the energy and automotive industries, are facing widespread changes. For that reason, it was important that we used the synergy platform to focus more closely on the topic of electrification. It was a successful mixture of lectures from external experts and discussions about voestalpine developments, offering a comprehensive overview of climate change, energy transfer, and the future of e-mobility."
Steel retains its role in mobility
The synergy platform offered an interesting overview from the viewpoint of the OEM and Tier 1 suppliers, from the materials used in (electric) vehicle production to the various drive options. Johannes Staeves, Head of Cluster Lightweight Body Construction at the BMW Group, focused on the continued intensive use of steel in car bodies.
"We need competitive and cost-efficient materials in order to electrify our core portfolio and roll out electrification on a large scale. Aluminum, and especially carbon, are perfect for a select range of applications and components where these materials offer specific advantages. However, using high-strength steel for the majority of a car body is very efficient."
Range of powertrains
In his presentation on powertrains, Thomas Pfund, Head of R&D Automotive Systems at automotive supplier Schaeffler, created an image of a future featuring a diverse range of powertrains for electric vehicles. He regards a mix of 30% battery and fuel cell drives, 40% hybrid engines, and 30% conventional combustion engines as realistic.
Jörg Wind, R&D Know-How Manager at Daimler AG, highlighted the potential offered by fuel-cell-powered vehicles. This drive option is also a commitment by the automotive group to electromobility. For its further development, Daimler AG puts great emphasis on continued expansion of hydrogen infrastructure, from its (sustainable) manufacture to the distribution network.
"Our aim is CO2-neutral car fleets within three product cycles, i.e., over the next 20 years."
A duty to act
The opening presentation at the synergy platform made it clear to all those present that electromobility has an important role to play in climate protection.
"There is only one way to achieve zero emissions: e-mobility coupled with electrical energy generated entirely from renewable sources, and with buffer storage in the form of electric vehicle batteries."
CEO Wolfgang Eder closed the 13th voestalpine synergy platform
In his closing address, Wolfgang Eder stressed once more that the only way to develop voestalpine into a technology group was through efficient research and development, and innovations; the combination of materials expertise and processing technology are the key to success.
"By networking existing competencies within the Group and by consistently focusing on research and development, voestalpine will continue to play a leading role as a driver of technology in tomorrow’s electromobility market. Whether high-quality steel as a processing material or intelligent technology products used in electric motors, voestalpine is actively shaping the future of mobility in this sector with its solutions.“ Wolfgang Eder, CEO of voestalpine AG"
He was clearly confident that voestalpine would master the transformation to CO2-neutral steel production using breakthrough technologies.