The Research Association for Combustion Engines (FVV) has selected a new mission statement, aiming to focus more strongly on CO2-neutral and almost emission-free mobility and energy conversion in future. President Peter Gutzmer and managing director Dietmar Goericke explain the motives behind this plan.
Interview: Johannes Winterhagen
FVV conducted a survey amongst its members in 2019, asking them where they see the biggest need for change.
Goericke First off, we have to say that the members provided an extremely positive assessment of FVV’s role as a network partner in research on pre-competitive topics. The close and trusted collaboration between large corporations and SMEs was highlighted in particular. This gives us access to the expertise in turbines, engines and fuel cells which exists here in Germany across the entire value chain. At the same time, the study showed that FVV projects play an important role in training young engineering talents for work in the sector. It also became apparent that we will have to focus significantly more on orientation studies, such as life cycle analyses of different powertrains and energy sources
FVV President Peter Gutzmer und FVV Managing Director Dietmar Goericke
»The future of the combustion engine is independent of fossil energy sources.«
And the focus on combustion engines was not questioned?
Gutzmer We should start by thinking about the energy sources. Our goal for society is to enable climate-neutral energy conversion and mobility and – as long as this status has not been achieved – to deploy technologies that are as gentle on the climate as possible. In my opinion, it is especially imperative to use chemical energy sources in an energy system completely dominated by regenerative sources. The future of the combustion engine is therefore independent of fossil energy sources – especially for gas turbines, which will be powered by ever increasing amounts of hydrogen in future.
Goericke And this is exactly what FVV’s current projects are looking at. For example, we established a separate planning group for research on fuel cells two years ago. Many of our projects from the other planning groups are also researching how regeneratively generated fuels and innovative powertrain and drive concepts can work together in the most effective way possible.
Over the last few years, you have conducted several studies on the topic of energy sources. Unlike traditional FVV research projects, these studies are more of an overview. Why is that?
Goericke The combustion engine is now in competition with other powertrain concepts. The main goal of traditional FVV projects has been to further intensify the scientific knowledge of individual phenomena, such as particle formation or engine friction. As important as this was, and is, we now need to provide substantiated orientation through our work. And the survey of members further confirmed this
Gutzmer These orientation studies are highly complex, as the results are highly dependent on the assumptions made beforehand. Serious studies, such as those conducted by FVV, are recognisable by the fact that they clarify these assumptions and depict the entire scatter bands of the results, rather than just some striking individual figures. Our studies are not able to provide definitive answers for the best solution to the global CO2 problem, but can provide initial insights – such as that strict separation between the sectors is not a sensible approach. A definitive benefit of the FVV studies is that they are not created for individual companies; instead they draw upon the knowledge of many different actors from industry and science.
Goericke This also helps to increase the orientation knowledge along the entire value chain. Large corporations are able to self-fund studies like this, but the value chains also include many medium-sized companies, particularly when it comes to engines. These companies also have to think about their future paths – using a sound foundation.
»The member companies and RTD performers all contribute their ideas on new projects and we then organise the process and framework, and especially the transfer of knowledge.«
What has changed in FVV’s work since the corporate foresight study was completed?
Goericke First of all, we reacted to the study by giving ourselves a new mission statement. Alongside optimising combustion engines, we have also specified fuel cell technology and alternative fuels as key research focuses. In addition, we want to explicitly analyse the effects of renewable energy sources on mobility, transport and energy systems. Last but not least, we also want to turn our attention towards future topics such as digitalisation and artificial intelligence. Ultimately, the mission statement only creates a framework, as FVV is a participation association. The member companies and RTD performers all contribute their ideas on new projects and we then organise the process and framework, and especially the transfer of knowledge.
Gutzmer It would be completely presumptuous to want to control the complexity of modern powertrain and energy research from a central point. Particularly when the race for the future is completely open. When and where electric drives, fuel cells or combustion engines are actually used depends primarily on whether the respective regenerative energy sources are available at suitable economic efficiency. FVV can not only provide orientation, but also contribute on a pre-competitive level to the technical availability of the suitable energy converters.
»There are exciting topics for young engineers, both in science and industry, when it comes to finding a path to climate-neutral mobility and energy supply.«
How do you plan to ensure that sufficient numbers of young engineers will conduct research in FVV projects in future?
Goericke Alongside the network and technology, young talent is the third pillar upon which our entire work is based. We have specified this in our new mission statement. Of course, we alone cannot ensure that sufficient numbers of young people decide to study an engineering degree and subsequently choose to further deepen their knowledge in combustion engine or fuel cell technology. But we can and want to show that there are exciting topics for young engineers, both in science and industry, when it comes to finding a path to climate-neutral mobility and energy supply.
Prof Dr Peter Gutzmer (b. 1953) studied mechanical engineering at the University of Stuttgart, where he received his doctoral degree on the subject of internal combustion engines.
Until October 2019, Professor Gutzmer was Chief Technology Officer at Schaeffler AG. He has been a member of the FVV Board since 2010 and took over as President in 2017. Since 2018, Professor Gutzmer has been co-chairing WG2 Alternative Drive Technologies and Fuels for Sustainable Mobility of the National Platform Future of Mobility (NPM).
Dietmar Goericke (b.1961) holds a degree in aerospace engineering from the Technical University of Berlin (1987).
Dietmar Goericke is Managing Director Research and Development of the Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau – VDMA), responsible for the pre-competitive research jointly conducted by industry and science and for the Association’s European research policy. Since 2000, he has been Managing Director of the FVV | Research Association for Combustion Engines since 2000. Since that time, he has also been in charge of the Mechanical Engineering Research Federation (Forschungskuratorium Maschinenbau – FKM) and the Research Association for Air and Drying Technology (Forschungsvereinigung Luft- und Trocknungstechnik – FLT).