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Bosch is involved in a number of research projects that focus on developing innovative energy storage concepts
By 2050, renewable sources of energy will cover more than 80 percent of energy needs. For this reason, offsetting the natural fluctuations in power generated by wind, the sun, and water will be decisive. Energy storage systems will play a central role in this regard. In cooperation with partners from business and science, Bosch is working on a number of pilot projects.
The BiLawE project: electric cars as intelligent energy storage systems
Currently a power bank for mobile phones, an electric vehicle’s battery storage system could one day become part of the power grid, receiving energy from renewable sources. In other words, whenever there is a surplus of energy from green energy sources, the batteries of connected vehicles would be charged. At the same time, the energy storage systems of electric vehicles could also feed energy back into the grid. As part of the publicly funded BiLaWe (bidirectional, inductive charging systems as efficient parts of the power grid) project, Bosch is currently collaborating with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft to find out how this principle can be applied to develop a bidirectional charge system. “In order to master this task, electric vehicles must be connected to the power grid as often as possible and for as long as possible,” explains Philipp Schumann, a project manager at the Bosch research campus in Renningen. The project partners think that this requirement can be met with publicly accessible inductive charging stations. A vehicle that is located at such a station would be charged without contact via a magnetic field. Since it wouldn’t be necessary to connect the vehicle to the charging station with a cable, the vehicles would be more frequently linked to the energy source. The project is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy and is set to run for three years.
More information on inductive charging systems can be found here.
The “Battery Second Life” project: The rebirth of the car battery
A joint project between Vattenfall, BMW, and Bosch is focusing on the topic of stable power grids. To this end, 2,600 functional used batteries from electric vehicles were used in the development phase: they were connected to one another and turned into a large energy storage system. This system, which has been in operation in a test phase since September 2016, can make energy available within seconds, thus offsetting fluctuations in the power grid. Its capacity is sufficient to supply power to a an average two-person household for a period of seven months. The “Battery 2nd Life” project began in 2013 and is set to run for five years. Among other things, the aim is to make the new energy storage system a lasting part of the energy system.
More information on the energy storage project in Hamburg can be found here.
The DESS2020+ project: storing energy with hydrogen
The aim of the “District Energy Storage and Supply System 2020+” is to stop transporting power generated from renewable sources over large distances in the future. Here, too, opportunities for decentralized energy storage are a central focus. More specifically, Bosch and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) are investigating how an enclosed residential area can be supplied with solar energy that is generated, stored, and consumed locally. The aim is to make energy available to some 100 households as well as to the owners of hydrogen-powered vehicles. To achieve this, the researchers are developing a system based on three core components: a proton exchange membrane electrolyzer (PEM electrolyzer), a fuel cell, and several hydrogen storage tanks. The interplay between them works like this: the PEM electrolyzer uses energy from renewable sources of energy to divide water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is stored in tanks and can be used at any time to operate the fuel cells. These, in turn, deliver heating energy for the connected building as required. In contrast to other energy sources, large amounts of hydrogen can be stored at a relatively low price, and this is a major advantage. What is more, it can contribute to eco-friendly mobility. A hydrogen dispenser could be installed at a location where fuel-cell powered vehicles could be filled within a few minutes. Set to run until 2018, the research project is part of the German Federal Ministry of the Economy and Energy’s “Research for an eco-friendly, reliable, and affordable energy supply” research project.
More information on new storage technology for green energy can be found here.
Bosch invited girls to take part in the Czech „Girls' Day“ in Jihlava
by Lucia Jaszayova
Who says that girls are not interested in technology? 20 girls – daughters of Bosch associates in the Czech Republic – proved otherwise. On October 14, they participated in the „Girls' Day“ held at the Jihlava plant. As a part of the program the girls, aged from eleven to 13, were divided into teams and given a task to build a tractor model using metal construction blocks.
After lunch, the participants took the chance to visit the production site. They got an impression of the workplace of their parents and some valuable information regarding Bosch’s support of technical education of women.
Finally, there was another competition prepared for them. To get the title „Technikgirl“, the girls had to demonstrate their knowledge not only about Bosch, but also about the tools that are used in the production plant.
The aim of the event was to stimulate girls' interest in technology by allowing them to peek into the world of engineering. "We want to encourage the girls. They should discover what technology is about and find out that working in technical professions can be fun", said Ralph Carle, Commercial Director of Bosch Diesel s.r.o.
The Girls’ Day in Jihlava is but one example how Bosch is supporting initiatives to spark children’s interest in technology. Similar events are held in Germany and Austria each year. Additionally, Bosch is a founding member of the “Wissensfabrik – Unternehmen für Deutschland” (Knowledge Factory – Companies for Germany). The initiative aims at giving children and young people a better understanding of business and technology. To support that objective, Bosch participates in some 280 educational partnerships with kindergartens and schools.
About Bosch Diesel s.r.o.:
Bosch Diesel s.r.o. employs 4.300 associates producing high pressure pumps for diesel engines, pressure tanks and control valves for the Common Rail system. Since the topic of technical education is very important in the region, Bosch Diesel s.r.o. is coming up with new approaches and activities. Since 2002, the company has led an own training center. It also supports dual training and technically oriented students.
More information on Bosch in the Czech Republic can be found here.
More information on the “Wissensfabrik” can be found here.
Automated driving is making heavy-duty trucks more efficient and safer
According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study entitled “The era of digitalized trucking: transforming the logistics value chain”, the trucks of the future could be more eco-friendly and more economical as automation gradually progresses.
Bosch solutions are also contributing to this progress, and thus helping make long-haul commercial traffic more sustainable. “Networked and automated commercial vehicles are the future, and we want to make a major contribution to shaping it,” said Dr. Markus Hayn, member of the Bosch board of management, at the 66th IAA Commercial Vehicles, during his presentation of the VisionX concept. Using a 40-ton truck as an example, the concept describes how the truck of the future could look. It will comprise cutting-edge technology and a hybrid drive, and will be partially automated.
VisionX makes platooning possible, meaning that a truck lines up in a convoy the moment it drives on the highway. The trucks are connected to one another, and can thus synchronize their acceleration, braking, and steering behavior. Moreover, via the Bosch IoT cloud, they can share information with each other on routes, traffic, and detours in real time. This makes it possible to reduce down time to a minimum, and to provide early warning of hazards and roadblocks. This, in turn, enables steady driving and helps avoid sudden braking and subsequent acceleration. At the same time, platooning technology makes it possible for trucks to drive up closer to the vehicles ahead, and this reduces aerodynamic drag. In this way, fuel savings of up to 11 percent will be possible in the future. According to the Bosch VisionX concept study, powertrain electrification is also contributing to making trucking more efficient, as it significantly increases the resource efficiency of long-haul travel.
More information on the VisionX concept study can be found here.
Bosch publishes WIN-Charter sustainability report 2015
As part of its participation in Baden Württemberg’s Sustainable Business Initiative (WIN), in 2015 Bosch reiterated its commitment to conserving scarce resources and promoting a positive work culture. The company’s aim of doing business in a sustainable manner is based on the 12 principles outlined in the WIN Charter, which describe the elements required to strike a balance between economic, ecological, and social concerns. In the 2015 WIN Charta sustainability report, Bosch set itself measurable targets in the areas of “Energy and Emissions” and “Associate Well-Being”, and defined a broad range of corresponding measures.
Target 1: Reduce CO2 emissions by 35 percent
During the reporting period, around half of the Bosch research and development budget went toward eco-friendly products that conserve resources. Moreover, the global roll out of an environmental management system that complies with the ISO 14001 standard was also on the agenda. Until now, 235 locations have received external certification, a share of 80 percent. By 2020, Bosch aims to reduce its CO2 emissions relative to value added by 35 percent over the 2007 reference year. The company will do this by systematically improving its environmental performance. This approach is clearly paying off: at the end of 2015, Bosch had already achieved a 29.7 percent reduction.
Target 2: 1.7 accidents per million hours worked
Another central WIN Charter topic is occupational safety. To reduce the number of work-related accidents to a minimum, in 2007 Bosch began rolling out occupational safety measures based on the OHSAS 18001 standard. This process has now been completed, with 122 locations certified. As a result, the company has reduced the number of accidents per million hours worked by more than half – from 6.8 to 3.2. By 2020, Bosch aims to reduce this figure to 1.7 accidents per million hours worked.
WIN! project: Reducing material losses
Signatories of the WIN Charter have also committed to implementing local sustainability measures. In this spirit, Bosch collaborated on a WIN! project with the Institute for Industrial Ecology at the Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences. The project aims to reduce material losses in production. To this end, the research team monitored and analyzed material and energy flows at Bosch’s location in Waiblingen. The project presented the university with an opportunity to test a material cost calculation method in real-life conditions. Students are taking part in the project in the form of project work and an internship. A bachelor’s thesis is also planned.
The Bosch annual WIN Charter report can be downloaded here (only in German available).
Bosch’s contributions along the food chain
Each year, approximately 4 billion metric tons of food are produced worldwide. But how much do people actually consume? Answer: just two-thirds of it. The resulting cost to the economy and the environment is huge.
To mark the UN’s World Food Day on October 16, this blog article takes a look at some areas in which Bosch is helping to improve sustainability in food production, transport, storage, and consumption.
The link between a technological company and agriculture might not be very obvious. But in fact, Bosch and agriculture go back a long way.
For Robert Bosch himself, the subject was one that occupied a lot of his spare time. After the first world war, he set up the Bosch Farm: “Back then, it seemed to me a great feat to transform a mere bog into a land of milk and honey,” he said. His plan was to turn a tract of poor land in Upper Bavaria into a model farming estate. Using state-of-the-art technology to produce high-quality products that could be sold in the region, the project got under way with the help of special machines, and the newly developed process of silage making was introduced. Robert Bosch also made use of what we would now call eco-friendly methods in creating an environment that would attract hosts of birds, thus providing a natural means of pest control. However, the Bosch Farm remained a subsidized operation.
A motorized plow for tilling the fields at the Bosch Farm, 1927.
From the farm to hydraulics, from hydraulics to robotics
Some ten years after the death of its founder in 1942, the company ventured into the new territory of equipment for agricultural machinery. In the early 1950s, the manual labor involved in German agriculture, from sowing to harvest, prompted efforts to come up with clever technological aids that would simplify work in the fields. The first such aid was a hydraulic lift which used the tractor’s engine to lift and lower the plow.
Nowadays, however, it is no longer hydraulics that form the link between Bosch and agriculture, but robotics, sensor technology, and connectivity. For example, the Bosch sensors that have become common in automobiles and smartphones can also be used in asparagus fields to record weather conditions. This information can be transmitted to an app to determine the right time for harvesting, watering, or covering the crop – increasing productivity and avoiding waste.
Bosch has also joined forces with scientific partners to develop a multifunctional agricultural robot platform that can be fitted with different components to perform a variety of tasks. It uses findings from robotics, sensor technology, and connectivity.
BoniRob is a multi-purpose robotic platform for applications in agriculture.
The “BoniRob” conducts not only soil and plant analyses, but also eliminates weeds. The robot can check the condition of individual plants every day. In plant cultivation and breeding, it can also provide completely new insights into how environmental conditions and treatment methods affect plant growth and quality.
Connected technology for aquaculture
Another example of Bosch technology used in sustainable agriculture is provided by an Australian start-up called “The Yield.” This new agri-tech company uses sensors, data management, and user-friendly apps to create novel tools for agriculture and aquaculture – e.g. in oyster farming. As a partner and investor, Bosch manages the data and supplies the technology for collecting and recording it.
Oyster farming in Australia.
Oysters are filter feeders. When it rains, they accumulate contaminants from agricultural run-off. As this is a potential health risk, oyster harvests are often at risk of being stopped by industry regulators. Where oyster farmers previously relied on estimates or prior experience, the Bosch solution has now fundamentally changed oyster farming: The ability to collect and report localized data has reduced closures in the Tasmanian oyster industry by up to 30 percent, and helped to increase productivity and sustainability. Researchers are also using the data to improve the management of diseases such as Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS). For more information, visit www.theyield.com.
Next step: clean shelf, clean environment
When buying sugar or flour, it’s not unusual to find traces of these products in the shopping bag or on the kitchen counter. This is not only a nuisance to the customer, but also a source of waste. To put an end to this, Bosch has recently presented a sustainable innovation: the world’s first sealed paper packaging solution. In collaboration with the Swedish paper specialist BillerudKorsnäs, Bosch Packaging Technology has come up with dust-tight packaging for dry products such as sugar, grains, flour, or powders. Using sustainable mono-material paper, the packaging contains no additional polymers.
The new sustainable packaging is dust-tight, enhancing product protection and keeping supermarket and kitchen shelves clean. It keeps dust and insects out, and prevents spillage along the entire supply chain. In addition, the mechanical properties of the paper reduce environmental impact.
Bosch solutions for transport: smart containers
A significant portion of global food production is spoiled before it reaches the consumer; the largest loss occurs during transportation. What to do about it?
In collaboration with Dole, the world's largest producer and marketer of fresh fruit and vegetables, Bosch has carried out three smart container tests focusing on the monitoring and subsequent ripening of bananas. The packing boxes are fitted with wireless sensors. Once the pallets have been loaded into the smart container, remote monitoring commences.
During sea transport, an interface between an internal sensor network and external communication keeps a constant watch on the quality of the bananas. For example, as soon as the temperature changes, a remote intervention is made and an alert is sent. The emergency signal is sent to the monitoring center, and the customer (in this case, Dole) can be directly informed.
Sensors in packing boxes monitor conditions and allow to adjust them in time if necessary.
In smart containers, loss due to perishing is only 20 percent. The advantages are that the quality of goods is constantly monitored and consequently improved.
Cook with care – sustainability in Bosch cafeterias
According to recent statistics, an astonishing amount of food is wasted. The average U.S. American, for example, throws away 507 dollars’ worth of food every year. This waste is even more acute in canteens and other large dining facilities that process huge amounts of food.
Kevin Clauss works as a cook at the Bosch plant in Schwieberdingen, Germany.
In Bosch cafeterias worldwide, the people in charge are sensitive to this issue and doing their best to avoid food waste. “We try to plan very carefully what we buy and use”, says Marc Seidel, who is responsible for the cafeteria in Schwieberdingen, Germany.
While hygienic considerations mean that fresh products such as lettuce still have to be thrown away, other food that has been cooked but not served is usually cooled and reused. Dairy products such as milk and yogurt are bought in smaller quantities and used at shorter notice, which helps to reduce food waste.
From the field to the plate: Bosch is doing its best to increase productivity and ensure sustainability in the field of agriculture, food transport, storage – and consumption.