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Automation systems with direct current power supply.

In a previous project called DC-Industrie, a large consortium from German industry investigated the general feasibility of having an energy system based on direct current. In order to do so, a production line was converted to make it run on direct current. In the follow-up project, which was recently launched, researchers are testing the use of direct current to run an entire shop floor. The aim of the DC-INDUSTRY 2 project is to ensure the safe and reliable supply of energy to production plants via the smart DC grid. It enables a grid-compatible connection to the superordinate supply network with fluctuating power generation and at the same time maximum use of decentralized renewable energy generation.

The project is divided into two main sub-areas: the development of components, on the one hand, and the practical testing in the overall system, on the other. Specifically, components such as drives, an over-voltage protection and control systems for DC use are being developed. The components are to be universally usable and standardized according to the plug & play principle. In addition, a transformer that is still being developed is to enable the implementation of a 230 V AC (alternating current) network. In practical terms, this means that it should be possible to use sockets for AC-powered electrical appliances such as drills and sanding machines at the individual workstations. In the laboratory and on test stands, these components will be tested and subjected to artificial ageing in order to check the durability of the products.

The practical testing takes place on several levels. The two participating universities and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering & Automation are setting up transfer centres where the 17 project partners ‒ including companies and research institutes ‒ can test their components.

The automobile manufacturers Daimler and BMW will then each provide a production hall that will be converted for DC operation. In addition to the aspects of economy and safety, the focus will be on investigating the concrete suitability of DC for everyday use.

Due to its outstanding industrial policy significance ‒ both for the component manufacturers and users involved and for achieving the climate protection targets ‒ the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Industry is funding the project with over €7.5 million.