German Aerospace Center (DLR)

DLR research for the energy system of the future

14th Jan, 2021
At the heart of the European Union’s plan to halt climate change is the creation of an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To help achieve this ambitious goal, scientists at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are researching and developing materials, processes and technologies for the efficient use of solar energy.

Solar energy research at unique facilities

Solar energy research at DLR focuses on the development and optimisation of solar thermal power plants, which convert concentrated solar radiation into heat and electricity. Our researchers push the boundaries of existing technologies and develop new ones, as well as assessing and standardising solar power plants and their individual components. We are also investigating solar-chemical techniques that can produce chemical energy sources, i.e. solar fuels. We carry out our research at unique facilities such as Synlight, the world's largest “artificial sun”. Each of Synlight’s 149 xenon short-arc lamps has the output of a large cinema projector. Together, they produce a light intensity that is more than 10,000 times greater than the incident solar radiation on the surface of Earth.


The solar towers at our Juelich site are a test facility for commercial solar thermal power plants. More than 2000 mirrors called heliostats direct incoming sun rays to a receiver at the top of each power tower. There, the radiation heats a circulating heat storage medium to very high operating temperatures. The heat is then used to generate steam that drives turbines and produces electricity without emitting CO2.


Using solar energy efficiently for industrial applications

One of our scientists conducting research at the solar tower is Stefania Tescari. With a degree in physics and a doctorate in engineering, she has been working at DLR’s Institute of Solar Research in Cologne since 2012.


During the project RESTRUCTURE, she developed a prototype for a thermochemical storage system, which was installed and successfully tested in the Juelich solar tower. For SOLPART, she carried out research on a reactor heated with high-temperature solar energy for industrial cement production. In 2018, during an exchange organised by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions research fellowship programme, she spent several months in Athens working on the development of a prototype hydrogen compressor based on metal hydrides. The research teams and projects at DLR are international and interdisciplinary, giving rise to a creative atmosphere that inspires Stefania and motivates her to work on further projects. For her, discussing research topics from different perspectives and the freedom she has for her research are essential to achieving her research goals. So it is no surprise that she is eager to pass on the excellent support she experienced as a doctoral student and scholarship holder by supervising students and doctoral candidates herself.

Would you like to participate in cutting-edge research at DLR? Find out how you can achieve your goals at the DLR careers site:

Posted 14th Jan, 2021
Read more from German Aerospace Center (DLR)
21st May, 2021

My knowledge is shaping the future.

Discover new horizons with us at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), where 10,000 bright minds combine their knowledge, talent and research to shape the future together. We’re working on solutions to address the greatest challenges facing our society and we’re looking for support.Climate, mobility and technology are changing worldwide. Our researchers are embracing the scientific challenges that arise from these developments with enthusiasm. Harnessing the power of our unique technological infrastructure with numerous laboratories and large-scale research facilities, they are using their expertise and creativity to help shape technological progress and ensure the changing Earth remains a place worth living in.
Pioneering work with purpose
Limits can be redefined in a place where talented people support and motivate each other to perform at their best. At DLR, creativity meets resourcefulness. Our work offers solutions – often in close partnership with industry – to the biggest scientific questions of today and the society of tomorrow. We research groundbreaking solutions for sustainable mobility and energy supply, accelerate digitalisation and facilitate rapid disaster relief. In doing so, we are united by a common goal – to use our expertise to create a future worth living in.
Sustainable mobility – on the ground and in the air
Admittedly, our goal to power cars, trains and aircraft in an entirely carbon-neutral way is ambitious. Help us achieve this by developing futuristic lightweight vehicles, electric aircraft engines and synthetic fuels based on solar energy as part of one of our specialised teams. Our researchers are also working on alternative transport concepts for commuters in the urban transport system of the future. Holiday flights with electric aircraft may still seem a pipe dream, but this future is already within reach at DLR. Hy4, the four-seater passenger aircraft powered by a fuel cell and battery system, has successfully completed its first test flights – keenly observed by a proud development team on the ground!
Shaping the energy transition with fossil fuel alternatives and innovative storage systems
The sooner renewable energies are available, the better. At DLR, you can work in interdisciplinary research groups to find out how climate-neutral hydrogen can be produced economically on an industrial scale: for the production of alternative fuels, the storage of solar and wind energy, the sustainable supply of electricity and heat or as a process gas in industry. Instead of scrapping old coal-fired power plants, these can be repurposed as environmentally friendly thermal storage power plants using molten salt as a powerful storage medium. Reliable batteries are needed in numerous areas of application, for example, to get satellites into space faster. You can work with us on innovative simulations to achieve this goal in the field of spaceflight.
Advancing digitalisation with artificial intelligence and digital processes
Digitalisation is more than just a buzzword – it’s the day-to-day work of specialists at DLR. This is the perfect place for you if you want to optimise aircraft construction with digital twins and research networked industrial production processes. Our teams develop sensitive service robots that assist surgeons in the operating theatre or help repair the International Space Station. They are also investigating how versatile artificial intelligence can be, whether in delivering an efficient energy supply, powering smart assistance systems for pilots and air traffic controllers or evaluating vast amounts of Earth observation data for climate protection. The central focus of all projects is always the desire to improve our everyday lives.
Climate change, natural disasters and security risks – advancing technologies for humanitarian assistance
Sometimes help comes directly from space – for example, when robotic vehicles originally developed to explore distant planets are used to distribute relief supplies in dangerous terrain. Or when mobile greenhouses designed for space secure the food supply at short notice after floods or earthquakes. Together with our scientists, you can take on responsibility in the international community to jointly manage emergency situations. Natural disasters are analysed rapidly using high-resolution satellite images that provide precise information on the damage caused and thus support the planning of appropriate relief operations on site. Our optical technologies and camera systems, which transmit real-time situation overviews using drones, are also a valuable support for domestic civil defence and disaster management.These impressive examples are just a small part of the big picture! At 55 institutes and facilities nationwide, countless challenging projects await young talents who have started or already completed their studies in a STEM subject. Aeronautics, space, energy, transport, security or digitisation – six exciting research areas and plenty of prospects.What part of the future would you like to shape?
Join us at DLR
Students can get their first insights into DLR's research areas through student positions, internships or when working on their final theses.
As a doctoral student, you can benefit from DLR's unique environment and acquire key skills for your scientific career through the DLR_Graduate_Program.
As a young professional, you can immerse yourself in DLR's cutting-edge research as a scientist or ensure the best possible research environment as a member of non-scientific staff.
In addition, we offer apprenticeships and dual study programmes.
You can find our current job advertisements here.
19th Feb, 2021

DLR research in and from space

Conducting microgravity experiments, exploring other planets and observing our planet from space – DLR’s space research activities encompass much more than human spaceflight. Researchers at DLR are contributing to pioneering research through German and international space missions and other projects often with beneficial applications in medicine, agriculture, mechanical engineering and land surveying on Earth.
Environmental monitoring from orbit, telescience and robotics − space research is more than human spaceflight missions
Focused on our planet’s atmosphere and environment, Earth observation is one of the space research disciplines conducted at DLR. With the aid of satellite data, scientists analyse many aspects of the environment that cannot be studied using traditional ground-based methods. For example, TerraSAR-X is a radar mission utilising a German remote sensing satellite of the same name. It carries a radar sensor that enables high-resolution Earth observation from space. Part of the mission involves carrying out systematic long-term observations such as monitoring glacier melt, which is vital to the study of climate change. The spatial information that scientists derive from satellite data also contributes towards a better understanding of humanitarian emergencies and the planning of relief operations. DLR researchers are also involved in the development of key operational technologies, from automated space flight control using robotics to future techniques such as telescience – science experiments carried out on board spacecraft via remote radio commands. The test facilities at DLR’s Lampoldshausen site, which are unique in Europe, are the starting point for these activities and are crucial to getting launchers, satellites and astronauts safely into space. Here, all types of rocket engines and thrusters are tested under flight conditions.
Testing rocket engines from small thrusters to main stage engines
Upon completing her aerospace engineering studies in Stuttgart, Anja Frank started working as a test engineer at the Institute of Space Propulsion at the DLR site in Lampoldshausen. She now heads the Test Facilities Department. “With my team, I work on getting astronauts safely into space – we plan, build and operate test stands for rocket propulsion systems,” she explains. The test stands for rocket engines have been used to test space propulsion systems for 50 years. From small thrusters for satellites to the Ariane main stage engine, all possible types can be tested on numerous test stands. Anja and her team are responsible for the planning, construction and operation of the test stands on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) and also work with Europe’s space industry. Manufacturers deliver their engines to DLR so that they can be run and measured on one of the stands; the data collected in the process provide insights into how the engines can be improved. The operation and continuous development of the test stands requires extensive knowledge from numerous research areas – physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering and information technology, to name just a few. Anja’s 100 team members come from a wide range of disciplines. Do you want to join one of the interdisciplinary teams conducting space research at DLR?
Find out more by visiting the DLR jobs site and discover the benefits of working at DLR.
19th Nov, 2020

Get to know the German Aerospace Center as an Employer

Our mission is unique - researching for the world of tomorrow
As Germany’s national centre for research into aeronautics, space, transport, energy, security and digitalisation, we have a truly unique mission – investigating the world of tomorrow. Our fascinating fields of research range from Earth and the Solar System to environmental conservation and sustainable transport and communication technologies. As a space agency, we are also responsible for planning and implementing Germany’s space activities.
Sounds exciting? Well, it is! Across 55 institutes at 30 locations, our 3400 scientists work on a variety of topics, tasks and projects. Our sights are always set on finding answers to the essential questions of our times and paving the way for the world of tomorrow. Whether it is hydrogen as an energy source of the future, the electrification of aviation, automated and networked mobility, artificial intelligence, the global change of the Earth system or, more recently, research connected to COVID-19, our approach is always comprehensive and integrated.
DLR at a glance
Our portfolio ranges from fundamental research to the development of future products. In this way, we contribute scientific and technical expertise to the benefit of Germany, helping to position the country as a prime location for industry and technology. We operate major research facilities for our own projects and on behalf of clients and partners. But we don’t stop there: we also foster the development of the next generation of researchers, provide expert advisory services to government and act as a driving force in the regions where our facilities are located.
We are looking for bright minds to join us
Do you excel in research related to solar technology, traffic management, aeroelasticity, environmental monitoring, atmospheric research, planetary research or other exciting fields? Take this opportunity to fulfil your mission at one of our institutes. We are always looking for bright minds in engineering, mechatronics, information technology, transportation science, material science, chemistry, Earth sciences, computer sciences, mathematics, physics and other natural sciences or engineering disciplines.
300 vacancies for students, PhDs and professionals
Still at university? Start with us as an intern, join as a working student or write your course paper or final thesis at one of our institutes. And if you already have a university degree, you can apply for a doctorate or a position as junior researcher! Your application is always welcome, especially in these challenging times. As a public research institution of the Federal Republic of Germany, we are well equipped for the future. If you are interested in starting your career at DLR, why not apply? Our institutes and facilities will choose a suitable format for the interview, depending on the available options.
Our scientists are living and breathing science – take a look