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NEWSLETTER NO. 4

The System Earth Know more – act faster

Scientific Cooperation – Worldwide

Greenhouse Gases into the Underground

GEOTECHNOLOGIES An interview...

Workshop in Crimea

GEOTECHNOLOGIES as platform for the first National Research Program...

...with Prof. Dr. Lars Stroemberg, VATTENFALL AB

Dear Reader!

The System Earth KNOW MORE –

Welcome to the fourth newsletter of the R&D program GEOTECHNOLOGIEN. In keeping with tradition, this newsletter

ACT FASTER

offers a mixture of reports on important events and successes of the past year, news, and future plans for the re s e a rch program. Various building blocks thus come together to form a unified whole. This basic integrative concept, which has defined the research program since its establishment, now also begins to take on concrete form overall. Bit by bit, the various research components of the program are being intelligently

Researching the Earth system with modernist technologies CHEEROKEE diving robot just before its deployment

linked together with the goal of understanding the Earth and its diverse drive mechanisms as a single system. Curre n t examples include the soon-to-begin research activities on “Early Wa rning Systems in Earth Management”, which will

Last year gave dramatic evidence of how vulnerable Mankind and

scientists have the world’s leading scientific and technological

intelligently integrate, develop, and apply the combined

Nature are to natural disasters. Intelligent concepts and methods

know-how in this arena, not least due to intensive furtherance

knowledge of several focal points of research at GEOTECH-

of resolution only seem possible if we understand the Earth as a

within the scope of GEOTECHNOLOGIEN. The GEOTECHNOLO-

NOLOGIEN.

system in which all natural processes are complexly interc o n n e c-

GIEN Science Report No. 7, soon to be released, introduces the

ted. This is the approach taken by the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN re s e-

scientific and technological results of the initial phase of rese-

Our latest interview was held with Prof. Stroemberg from

arch and development (R&D) program, which has been funded by

arch (2001 – 2004). Since the end of 2004, there are now four

Vattenfall, the third largest power supplier in Germany. The

the German Federal Ministry of Education and Researc h

new research alliances being supported by the BMBF with a

interview represents the “bridge” between science and com-

(Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) and the

financial volume of 7.6 million euros. The start was marked with

merce that the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN program has meanwhi-

German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemein-

a kickoff meeting on February 10, 2005, at the IFM GEOMAR in

le been successful in building.

schaft, DFG) since 2000. The program’s 13 interdisciplinarily orga-

Kiel. The meeting was part of the commemorative event held in

nized key issues make it possible to study »Habitat Earth« in its

honor of Prof. Erwin Suess, who has left for retirement. With his

individual components in global observation from outer space

groundbreaking research in the field of gas hydrates, Prof. Suess

down to the atomic level. This allows ideas and knowledge to be

contributed decisively to the success of gas hydrate research in

Yours,

combined and new synergies formed. The GEOTECHNOLOGIEN

Germany and around the world.

Ludwig Stroink

program has thus consistently forwarded and expanded the new

Coordination Office Manager GEOTECHNOLOGIEN

change in paradigm from disciplinary research to interdisciplinary

Technological innovations and interdisciplinary research at the

concepts and methods of resolution.

»highest level« guarantee the international satellite missions, CHAMP, GRACE, and GOCE. German research institutes

A perfect example of this fostering concept is the close interplay

such as the GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam and the Institute

between geoscientists, biologists, chemists, and engineers in

for Astronomical and Physical Geodesy at the Technical Uni-

researching the worldwide gas hydrate deposits. German

versity in Munich are involved at the pinnacle of scientific lea-


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»GEOTECHNOLOGIEN – Science Report« series. The systematic further development and implementation of these information

News

technologies will be a main focus of future research activities in the development of early warning systems. The intelligent combination of various research elements of the R&D program GEO-

Appointed

TECHNOLOGIEN with the goal of global Earth system manage-

Since September 1, 2005, Geophysicist Simon Schnei-

ment is thus being implemented piece by piece.

der has been responsible for the press and publications work of the for GEOTECHNOLOGIEN coord i-

The »GEOTECHNOLOGIEN« special sessions as part of the

nation office. He replaces Cathrin Klitzsch, who left

annual conferences of the German Geological Society

the office following the birth of her daughter.

(Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geowissenschaften, DGG) have meanwhile become a tradition. At last year’s event in Erlangen,

Written

the session boasted 16 presentations and seven posters, making

GEOTECHNOLOGIEN Science Report No. 5

it one of the largest events at the conference – with great popu-

and 6 released

larity. At the DGG 2006 in Berlin, GEOTECHNOLOGIEN is there-

Science Report No. 5 unveils the latest results of

fore again on the agenda. Interested parties who want to pre-

German continental margin re s e a rch. Science

sent their research projects at this international platform are

Report No. 6 focuses on the funded R&D plans wit-

already being requested to mark this date.

hin the scope of the »GEOTECHNOLOGIEN – CO2 Storage in Germany« research initiatives.

The touring exhibition, »In die Tiefe gehen« (“Going Underground”), has closed its doors. The exhibition toured six cities in Germany between March 2004 and October 2005. On Gondo landslide This landslide on 14.10.2000 in Gondo, Switzerland, took the lives of 13 people. A new generation of early warning systems should prevent such catastrophes in the future.

roughly 300 m2, various options were informatively and playfully displayed for sustainable utilization of the world at our feet: train stations that disappeared underground, subterranean transportation systems, or possible reservoirs for greenhouse gases. There were many such examples and more than 120,000

dership and organization. The spectacular results of the missions

visitors took the opportunity to learn more. Detailed documen-

Summoned

last year did not only create a sensation in scientific circles; the

tation on the exhibition can be found at www.geotechnolo-

Since the summer of 2005, the www.Planeterde.de

general media also reported many times on the various missions

gien.de. Due to the overwhelming success of the touring exhi-

web site has been partner site of the R&D program

– and important index of the significance that research activities

bition, the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN coordination office has been

GEOTECHNOLOGIEN. Twice a month, exciting, ex-

also holds for society in general. The spectacular results cannot

asked to create a new exhibition. With a working title of

clusive reports on the running research activities at

only be traced to the successful union of the various participa-

»Unruhige Erde« (»Restless Earth«), the latest touring exhibi-

GEOTECHNOLOGIEN transport you into the thrilling

ting scientific disciplines, however; they are also exemplary of

tion will accompany the start of the new research projects con-

daily lives of our scientists.

the integrative fostering concept at BMBF and DFG for GEO-

centrating on early warning systems for natural disasters. The

TECHNOLOGIEN. Roughly 10 million euros are provided by both

exhibition will explore the major significance of extreme natural

Numerated

institutions for these projects. Not least in thanks to this intensi-

events for humanity and the environment. Exhibition sites and

GEOTECHNOLOGIEN in numbers

ve support of the research, Germany has meanwhile become

times have not been finally decided yet, but the Deutsche

• 8 of 13 focal issues funded

valued worldwide as a partner in science and technology for the

Museum in Munich and the Deutsche Technik Museum in Berlin

• Approximately 71 million euros in

construction and deployment of small satellites. Through further

have already expressed their interest in participating again.

funding since 2000

funding in the amount of 7.5 million euros from BMBF and

• 130 research alliances with

through the DGF priority program, »Mass Transfer and Mass

• 38 universities, 18 extramural research

Distribution in the Earth System«, beginning mid-2006, this

institutions and 26 industry partners

knowledge can now be systematically expanded and utilized.

• 55 high-carat experts from 11 countries assessed almost 300 project sketches and

The first status seminar of the three alliance programs TIPTEQ,

research applications to the BMBF

SUNDAARC, and NAMIBGAS was held on June 9-10, 2005, at

• 210 publications in national and

the GeoForschungsZentrum in Potsdam as contribution to the

international trade journals

main topic of »Continental Margins – Earth’s Focal Points of Usage and Hazard Potential«. The SUNDAARC and TIPTEQ

Noted

projects from Indonesia and Chile, two regions particularly

Important dates can be found at

susceptible to earthquakes, deliver indispensable basic knowled-

www.geotechnologien.de

ge for the development of a new generation of early warning systems. They will therefore be important building blocks in

Imprint

future GEOTECHNOLOGIEN R&D projects focusing on »Early Warning Systems in Earth Management«. In addition to currently implemented measures for establishing an early tsunami

Publisher

warning system in the Indian Ocean, the Federal Ministry of

GEOTECHNOLOGIEN coordination office

Education and Research (BMBF) is now also facilitating the deve-

Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam

lopment and practical testing of early warning systems for other

Tel.: (+49) 0331- 62 01 48 00

natural geological catastrophes. Nine million euros will be avai-

e-mail: geotech@gfz-potsdam.de

lable over the next four years for the work. The call for research

www.geotechnologien.de

proposals ended on February 3, 2006. An essential link in the early warning chain is interoperable information architectures

Texte: L. Stroink

which, for instance, intelligently link all partial systems to each

Images: G. Schwalbe

other. Important basic knowledge and the first practical applications were also compiled within the scope of the »Information

The GEOTECHNOLOGIEN research and develop-

Systems in Earth Management« priority project. As part of

ment program is funded by the German Federal

the international Munster GI Days, the closing workshop was held on June 22, 2005, after a three-year funding phase. More than 60 scientists unveiled their results in the presence of international assessors. A closing overview will soon appear in the

Ministry of Education and Research (BundesminisPeer into the depths from outer space: satellite images provide a wealth of information with which scientists on the Chilean continental margin south of Concepción study the two earth crust plates

terium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) and the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG). No. 4, März 2006


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Seite 4

Scientific Cooperation – Worldwide WORKSHOP IN CRIMEA STRENGTHENS INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION Participants at the international workshop in the ancient city of Chersonesus, founded by the Greeks circa 400 B.C. Mud volcanoes on the Crimean Peninsula

The global perspectives of the R&D program GEOTECHNOLOGIEN are enabled by interdisciplinary and transnational projects.

MUD VOLCANOES – A PREVIOUSLY UNEXPLORED SOURCE OF METHANE

Numerous research plans are therefore integrated in internatio-

med attendees about the current status of gas hydrate and methane re s e a rch in the Black Sea. The concept of the R&D p rogram GEOTECHNOLOGIEN, introduced in a detailed pre-

nal programs. In the projects on gas hydrate research, the net-

A total of 45 scientists from nine countries participated in the

sentation, also met with great interest. There was still plen-

work of international cooperation is particularly densely woven.

workshop. The densely packed, three-day presentation pro-

ty of time for planning concrete cooperation projects,

Cooperation with China and the neighboring countries of the

gram followed a two-day excursion to the world-famous »mud

though; for instance, with the Academy of Sciences in Kiev.

Black Sea could even be further strengthened in recent years.

volcano« on the Crimean Peninsula. Unlike »normal« volca-

In addition to the outstanding organization of the event, the

noes, which spew magma, mud volcanoes only spew cold,

excellent hospitality of our Ukranian colleagues is worthy of

watery mud and gas (methane). They are therefore a major

special mention. Whether during the city tour through histo-

natural source of the greenhouse gas methane, which »fuels«

ric Sevastopol, the »Conference Dinner«, or on the occasion

An international workshop focusing on the Black Sea was held

the greenhouse effect 23 times more effectively than CO2. On

of a dinner for the German delegation from the Ukranian

May 17-22, 2005, in Sevastopol, Ukraine. The workshop was

land, there are about 600 mud volcanoes worldwide that have

Academy of Sciences in Kerch, the people in charge were

initiated by Gerhard Bohrmann from the DFG Research Center

been relatively intensively studied. Their equivalents on the

g e n e rous, genial hosts at all times.

»Ocean Margins« (RCOM) in Bremen and Coordinator of the

ocean floor, however, are still relatively unexplored. The Black

METRO alliance project. Co-organizers were the Kovalevsky

Sea offers the best conditions for re s e a rch of this kind.

Although not a direct result of the workshop in Sevastopol

Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas (IBSS) in Sevastopol

N o w h e re on our planet is more methane stored near the sur-

but within its periphery, a collaboration developed between

and the Center for Marine Geosciences at Moscow State

face than in this almost oxygen-free sea basin between Asia

RCOM and the MSU in Moscow. On board the Russian re s e-

University (MSU) in Moscow. The workshop was supported by

Minor and Southeastern Europe. »There are between 200 and

arch vessel, the PROFESSOR LOGACHEV, a German-Russian

the BMBF and the R&D program GEOTECHNOLOGIEN. The

600 mud volcanoes in the Black Sea,« explains Gerhard

crew of scientists set sail for the second time on June 8, 2005,

METRO research alliance (»METRO – Methane and Methane

Bohrmann. However, this does not include all methane sour-

under the leadership of Michael Ivanov, to explore the mud

Hydrate in the Black Sea: The Structural Analysis, Quantifi-

ces by far. The re s e a rch of Russian scientists shows that in

volcanoes and the associated gas hydrates in the Black Sea.

cation, and Dynamics of the Methane Reservoir«) has been

the Black Sea alone, there are about 5,000 spots in which

The third expedition is planned for 2007, aboard the German

operating in the Black Sea since 2004. Already in the prelimi-

methane is released.

re s e a rch vessel METEOR. Further information is available at:

FOCUS: BLACK SEA

nary phase of the project, players and interested parties from the region are therefore to be brought together with the

www.gashydrat.de and www.planeterde.de

GENEROUS AND GENIAL HOSTS

German scientists to plan future cooperation in good time. The traditionally good contacts in the region can therefore be con-

NThe workshop in the Ukraine was a success in more ways than

sistently continued and extended.

just from a scientific perspective. About 40 presentations infor-

Greenhouse Gases into the Underground GEOTECHNOLOGIEN AS PLATFORM

part of the R&D program GEOTECHNOLOGIEN. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium

FOR THE FIRST NATIONAL

für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) funded the first national research program on CO2 storage, with ten interdisciplinary

RESEARCH PROGRAM FOR

research alliances from science and commerce, with roughly 7 million euros. The fifteen participating companies contributed

UNDERGROUND STORAGE OF THE

an additional 1.3 million euros. The scientists and their colleagues from the industry want to develop a coordinated concept

GREENHOUSE GAS CO2

over the next three years to be used as a basis for reliable assessment of this technology.

SAFE AND PERMANENT STORAGE Countless modern studies assume that coal will continue to play a decisive role in the future energy mix in Germany. It is nevertheless necessary that the carbon dioxide created in its

Separating CO2 from power plant steam and storing it underground could be an important contribution to the reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse emissions.

use does not reach the atmosphere. A key technology here

The re s e a rch planning centers surround the development of technologies for safe and permanent storage of CO2. In Germany there are, for example, suitable deep-lying natural

could be to separate the greenhouse gas from the power

a n t h ropogenic greenhouse gases.

gas and petroleum fields. Saltwater-bearing formations and

plant steam and store it underground – an option also accep-

The possible perspectives opened in Germany by the under-

non-degradable coal beds deep below the surface are also

ted by climatologists around the world for the reduction of

ground storage of CO2 have been studied since mid-2005 as

potential reservoirs. They are therefore being tested extensive-


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Seite 1

ly as part of the research program. There are other, initially less

The consortium’s objective is to offer solutions that have highly

years - and the considerable export prospects of this environmen-

explored technology concepts, though, and their possible

sensitive measurement techniques but are robust and inexpen-

tally friendly technology open interesting commercial perspectives.

applications prevail during the challenging process of selection

sive, which can be introduced to the product lines of participa-

by international assessors. The increased productivity of

ting companies after the test phase is successfully completed.

The kickoff event for all funded projects was held on Septem-

dwindling natural gas deposits gained by an injection of CO2

Despite the increased costs of producing electricity, which

ber 22-23, 2005, at the Federal Institute for Geosciences and

is as much a part of it as the conversion of the volatile CO2 to

today are still associated with the separation and storage of

Natural Resources (Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften and

solid, limestone-like compounds, the microbial conversion of

CO2, the technology could still be profitable. The German

R o h s t o ffe, BGR) in Hannover. It was accompanied by a lively

CO2 to natural gas (CH4), or the treatment of flue ash fro m

Institute for Economic Research (Deutsche Institut für

echo from the press. The most important articles can be re a d

defunct strip mines with the greenhouse gas. Another focus is

Wirtschaftsforschung, DIW) calculates that power generation

under »Press Reports« at www.GEOTECHNOLOGIEN.de.

the development and optimization of safety and monitoring

at a zero-emission coal burning power plant would start to be

technologies. A consortium, coordinated by GeoForschungs-

cost-effective at a certificate price of over 30 euros per ton.

Zentrum Potsdam, of technology companies and re s e a rc h

Since the introduction of CO2 emission trading on 1.1.2005,

institutions concentrates on the development of fiber optic

the certificate price rose to currently approx. 20 € / t CO2.

sensors that enable permanent monitoring of the reservoir.

Industrial application as well – experts reckon on it in about 10

GEOTECHNOLOGIEN in interview... ...WITH PROF. DR. LARS STROEMBERG, Prof. Dr. Lars Stroemberg, 59, received his

DIRECTOR OF THE »CO2-FREE POWER

Doctorate in thermodynamics and in addition to his work with Vattenfall is Professor

PLANT PROJECT« AT VATTENFALL

of Energy Technologies at the Chalmers University in Goteborg. Lars Stroemberg is Director of the “CO2-free Power Plant” project and responsible for research and development in the field of carbon dioxide research with the Vattenfall Group. In the project to build a CO2-free power plant, an initial 30 MW pilot plant is to be built by 2008 at the Schwarze Pumpe site (Lausitz).

Bucket-wheel excavator in a brown coal surface mine

GEOTECHNOLOGIEN: Dr. Stroemberg, to reduce anthro-

porary solution, a bridge that should lead to truly sustainable

stay down there?« This is of major importance for public accep-

pogenic CO2 emissions, politicians the world over are

solutions. Also because fossil fuels will not do fore v e r. Coal will

tance of this technology. Can the greenhouse gas be safely con-

considering storing this greenhouse gas undergro u n d .

be available the longest and we can mine it worldwide under

ducted to the underground and will it stay there permanently?

What options do you think are realistic here ?

comparatively safe conditions. Vattenfall’s priority is coal and

That is what we have to test a hundred times before we begin

L. STROEMBERG: We only see one option: storage in poro u s

the geological storage of CO2 – together, that is the combina-

implementing the technology. We must build trust and prove

sandstone; for example, in exhausted petroleum and natural

tion! At the same time, though, we have to search for truly

that we have mastered the technique. Vattenfall is participating

gas deposits. Even deep-lying, saltwater-bearing sandstone

sustainable solutions.

in many international projects on re s e a rching and developing this

strata, so-called aquifers, could be considered. I think that

technology. Also in the projects at GEOTECHNOLOGIEN. We

there is no other option that could interest us, like in Japan,

GEOTECHNOLOGIEN: How important are research and

expect concrete advances from the R&D projects as to the safe-

w h e re they are considering storing CO2 in the oceans. For us,

development? Do you think that the separation and stora-

ty and feasibility of this technology.

that is not an alternative. We could not justify it ecologically.

ge technologies will soon be far enough that they can be applied profitably?

GEOTECHNOLOGIEN: The discussion on CO2 storage

At Vattenfal, we also actively pursue various methods of sup-

L. STROEMBERG: Research and development are very impor-

always raises the legal issue. What do you see as the

plying energy from regenerative sources – biofuels or wind

tant! Particularly for us. We are currently in a situation in

general legal parameters of CO2 storage right now?

farms, for example. It is becoming apparent, however, that

which we know the techniques to a great extent. Now we

L. STROEMBERG: A very important question. As the current laws

when viewed from a long-term perspective, CO2 separation

have to apply them, in re s e a rch facilities and demonstrative

were written, nobody considered the technical possibilities that

and geological storage can make a great contribution to a

operations. In Norway, the first CO2- f ree gas power plants are

we have today. Today there is political pressure to face the issue

reduction in anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The IPCC re p o r t

expected to go online in 2009. As to coal burning power sta-

of fighting the changes in our climate. We want to move away

shows the same [Editor’s note: IPCC: Intergovernmental Panel

tions, the first pilot plants will be ready in 2-3 years, like our

from C O2 emissions and therefore also have to consider geolo-

on Climate Change]. For us, this is very important! Fossil fuels

pilot plant in Schwarze Pumpe. It will take about 15 years,

gical CO2 storage. However, we also have to reach a European

will continue to play an important role in the future. There f o re ,

though, before this technology can be applied pro f i t a b l y.

consensus. Questions like »How do we regulate storage in

we know that there are the technical options, there are the

Driven by European emissions trading, such technologies beco-

transnational deposits?« or, »Who will take on the long-term

environmental and energy-political aspects, and it is the only

me increasingly economically attractive.

responsibility for safety?« must be raised and answered on an

way to combat global warming.

international level. This process will take years, though. I think GEOTECHNOLOGIEN: Where, in your opinion, does

that it will take more than 10 years before a European solution

GEOTECHNOLOGIEN: Is Vattenfall therefore considering

European CO2 research stand in an international compari-

will be found. Even if we begin now.

building a CO2-free power plant?

son?

L. STROEMBERG: Schwarze Pumpe is a site near Cottbus in

L. STROEMBERG: At the fore f ront. Even because of Euro p e a n

GEOTECHNOLOGIEN: Dr. Stroemberg, thank you very

Brandenburg. Right now, one of the largest brown coal burning

emissions trading.

much for this interview.

there. We will build a CO2-free plant there in coming years. A pilot

GEOTECHNOLOGIEN: Are there also other nations that are

Dr. Stroemberg was interviewed by S. Schneider. Abridged by

plant with 30 MW thermal capacity.

performing cutting-edge research in this field?

S. Schneider.

power plants in Germany, with a capacity about 2000 MW, is

L. STROEMBERG: The Japanese. They are also doing gre a t GEOTECHNOLOGIEN: The subject of CO2 storage also

work. Because Japan greatly depends on fossil fuels, pre d o m i-

always deals with sustainability and sustainable politic.

nantly coal, they are forced to do re s e a rch in the field of CCS

What significance does the current discussion on sustaina-

technologies.

bility have for you? L.STROEMBERG: Yes, that is correct. For us, this is a decisive

GEOTECHNOLOGIEN: Which technological developments

question. We are certain of two things: firstly, we must sepa-

and research are necessary in upcoming years to imple-

rate and store CO2 to stop global warming; secondly, separa-

ment the CCS technologies?

tion and storage is not the final solution. We see it as a tem-

L. STROEMBERG: The most important question is, »Will C O2 also


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