EIT InnoEnergy Master’s in Energy Technologies students recently had the exciting opportunity to collaborate with Siemens Energy, one of the world’s leading energy technology companies. The Siemens New Energy Challenge 2020 – hosted by Siemens Energy, EIT InnoEnergy and Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) – offered participants great networking, team building and idea exchanging. We caught up with the winning Bio ICE team to hear about their experience – and innovative idea for repurposing old combustion engines to produce electricity from biogas in off-grid areas.
Siemens Energy is committed to finding the answers that meet the growing energy demand and protect our climate – and hosting events like this is a great chance to tap into creative young minds! The students can envision new and advanced solutions for their home countries (and beyond) and test out some market analysis and feasibility – all integral parts of being entrepreneurs. Bio ICE team member Philip Widmaier shares: “Our task was to develop an individual solution for an energy-related problem in a given region (ours was Brazil). We noticed that the unstable electrical grid and the supply insecurity were causing problems, so we developed ideas to address this issue with small, family-owned farms in remote regions in mind. Our solution intends to abolish their dependency on the unstable grid, so it had to be cheap, reliable, easy to fix and efficient. Creating biogas from manure using materials easily found on hand, such as old engines, was perfect!”
Teammate Jose Gonzalez explained: “This high-quality challenge was a great opportunity to share ideas with everyone and to learn from each other. It was a pleasure to collaborate with the Siemens Energy representatives on new perspectives for the energy industry’s near future. They were very kind and offered support and guidance throughout the challenge to develop and improve our idea.” With the current COVID-19 crisis, it’s vital to preserve students’ access to industry and networking to maintain this unique EIT InnoEnergy Master School feature. Cherie Hsu shared her experience: “We were provided with high-intensity interactions and communications to help maintain focus during activities. It was refreshing to witness the creation of a different kind of energy challenge event – and how our programme is adapting to these extraordinary circumstances!”
The Master’s in Energy Technologies programme offers a broad-based education in various key engineering disciplines in the sustainable energy sector. With a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, students are encouraged to think in new ways about energy – and challenges such as this allow them to do that! Juan Ramirez talks about his time in the programme: “We have many challenges during our Master, such as the Siemens Energy Challenge and the Energy Business Camp with Axel Accelerator – where we are guided on how to approach a problem and come up with innovative solutions. We can later apply these skills on larger-scale challenges, such as during Utility Week and the worldwide Energy Hackathon. It’s great practice in how to come up with, develop and then later bring ideas to market – and of course great for making valuable connections!”
“We felt honoured to win – it was like accomplishing a milestone on this innovation journey,” Cherie says, “Through months of hard work, our team was able to provide an idea that showed the reality of the situation in the agriculture industry in Brazil and offer a practical solution. Additionally, we could further discuss our scalable idea with other Siemens Energy employees who are currently working on energy projects. It is possible that these discussions can lead to other forms of collaborations or engagements, and hopefully, this idea can inspire a sustainable and renewable energy source programme.” Juan adds: “We believe that the concept of reusing old cars or motorcycle engines for electricity production could go further, making biogas affordable and accessible for everyone.”