Campus Germany: Lessons in sustainability

Published: Thursday, December 16, 2021

At the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai, UAE, the first world expo held in the Middle East and North Africa region, Germany highlights the many possibilities on how technologies and innovative ideas can sustain the planet and its inhabitants.

Planet earth is home to over 7.9 billion people. In less than 30 years, about 70% of them will live in cities and experts say a network of sustainable infrastructure and services would be needed to sustain their needs.

This much people would need reliable supplies for green energy, clean water and environment, food, sustainable housing, education, transportation, sources of livelihood, safe public spaces, healthcare, among many other things.

The forward-thinking Germany is bringing once again innovative and creative ideas on how this challenging scenario can be addressed by combining our natural resources with science, engineering smart technologies and human ingenuity.

At the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai, UAE, the first world expo held in the Middle East and North Africa region, Germany highlights the many possibilities on how technologies and innovative ideas can sustain the planet and its inhabitants.

Unlocking the possibilities on this issue is the German Pavilion’s “CAMPUS GERMANY” located in the Expo’s Sustainability District. The Pavilion showcases 36 innovative and creative exhibits linked to the subject of sustainability, grouped in “labs” dedicated to the topics of energy, cities of the future and biodiversity.

Dietmar Schmitz, the Commissioner General of the German Pavilion, explained EXPO 2020 is unique because it thrives on common goals to sustain the planet while protecting people.

“I think it’s very important to protect our environment. This was the reason why we decided to exhibit at the Sustainability District,” said Schmitz, a veteran of six world expos. “This is a very accomplished exhibition and we’re greatly impressed with the pavilion as a whole. We’re very happy with the curated content on the topic of sustainability.”

“Our CAMPUS GERMANY is based on the principle of sharing knowledge and ideas – because only together will we be able to change our future for the better. To this end, our agency facts and fiction has created an immersive experience for people young and old, no matter where they come from or what language they speak,” he added.

He praised the UAE government for uniting countries in this mega event despite the pandemic, sending a glimmer of hope that the future

“The pandemic is a special situation. But on the other hand, every Expo organizer is like organizing it for the first time. We got it all (the pandemic). Here in Dubai, they want to do everything right. I think they did it in a very good way. They have a lot of expats from different countries and this helps very much,” the German Commissioner said.

“All countries are working together for this Expo. My message to the public is come to the Expo. Look at the different pavilions and their topics, learn and take something from it so we can create a better world,” he added.

Three-themed Areas

The German Pavilion’s three themed areas will house an array of fascinating exhibits designed to encourage interaction and raise awareness of how important sustainability is both for today and tomorrow.

Ernst Peter Fischer, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Arab Emirates, said the three core parts of CAMPUS GERMANY include energy transition, city of the future and diversity.

“The three core parts of our exhibition are about energy transition, city of the future and biodiversity. We want to show our German contribution to addressing these most pressing challenges for humanity. We don’t want to show-off or sell anything. That’s not what Expo is about.

We truly believe in Expo 2020 Dubai’s great theme: “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. And: Having a fun time while doing that. The theme is great because it describes what the world needs to do. Right now. With urgency…,” the ambassador said.

Energy Lab und Energy Terrace: Generation, transmission and storage of electricity  

Visitors to this lab will be able to learn all about the sustainable generation of electricity, loss-free transmission and alternative forms of storage.

One exhibit, provided by start-up Enerkite, takes a new approach to wind energy with kite-based systems that offer a considerably more efficient means of generation than traditional wind power facilities. Another, supplied by Heliatek, relies on energy produced by the sun. It is an ultra-light, flexible, ultra-thin, organic solar film that can be used for completely new applications beyond the capabilities of conventional solar technology.

In 1987, two German physicists received the Nobel Prize for their development of a ceramic material that conducts electricity loss-free at a temperature of -206 °C. E.ON’s AmpaCity exhibit develops their idea further and shows how it can work in practice, paving the way for a technology that is set to play a key role in transmission in tomorrow’s energy grids.

Another exhibit, supplied by Munich City Council in collaboration with the federal state of Bavaria, focuses on the sustainable utilization of geothermal technology, which can be used to generate electricity and heat. Munich’s medium-term goal is to meet its district heating needs primarily from this renewable source and to make its district heating 100% carbon-neutral.

Another exhibit is about limestone – a cost-effective material that offers an excellent means of storing renewable energies in a particularly sustainable and efficient manner. Researchers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which has provided the exhibit, have found a way of making the more than 600°C reaction temperature manageable.

The exhibition will also feature the StenSea – “Stored Energy in the Sea” project, which is being conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology. Using a model, the exhibit will demonstrate how offshore pumped storage stations in the sea work and how, particularly if installed along the coastlines of Europe, Japan and the US, they could supply as much as 1,000 times today’s land-based pumped storage capacity.

Future City Lab and Future City Terrace: Life in tomorrow’s cities

In the Future City Lab and on the Future City Terrace, things will move to the beat of tomorrow’s cities in an exhibition covering a wide range of ideas, from food supply to mobility.

With its partner SSI SCHAEFER, INFARM presents a future-proof, smart, modular farm where everything grows in perfect conditions – with 95% less water, 90% less mileage, 95% less land and zero chemical pesticides.

Two other exhibits are about energy and fresh-water supply. The first shows a dye-sensitized concrete material, which researchers from the “Building Art Invention” platform at the University of Kassel use as a photovoltaic cell. By applying a solar-active, organic liquid, such as fruit juice, their invention can turn any building into a solar power facility.

The other demonstrates that traces of medicines, viruses or chemicals remain in purified water despite state-of-the-art technology and large amounts of energy being used in the water treatment process. It will present a process developed by the Technical University of Munich and Berliner Wasserbetriebe (Berlin water utility), which harnesses the power of natural bacteria to reduce these residual pollutants in a targeted and efficient manner.

Two further exhibits in the Pavilion cover mobility from two very different angles. TK Elevator’s “MULTI” reinvents the elevator as an urban transport system. Horizontal transport, vertical transport far higher than currently possible, significantly better utilization of valuable building space and a smart control system mean MULTI will revolutionize how the buildings and cities of the future are planned.

In addition, the 7-Seater Lilium Jet showcases the vision to create a sustainable and accessible high-speed, regional transportation service. The electric vertical take-off and landing jet by Lilium offers industry-leading capacity, low noise and high performance.

Another exhibit helps to make use of carbon dioxide and thus to promote a circular economy. It will present a process developed by Covestro and their partners, which enables as much as 20% of the crude oil used in plastic production to be replaced by securely bound carbon dioxide. In addition to videos and displays explaining exhibits, attractions at the German Pavilion will include computer games, one of which allows visitors to try their hand at filtering out bacteria from waste water.

Biodiversity Lab and Biodiversity Terrace: Unravelling the mysteries of our planet

The Biodiversity Lab and Biodiversity Terrace will give visitors a first-hand experience of Earth’s riches. As well as revealing some of nature’s wonders, these two areas will show how nature actually inspires technological innovations.

Of an estimated 10 million species on our planet, only 2 million have actually been described. The Taxamap, the work of Dr Marin Freiberg from iDiv and Leipzig University, shows all terrestrial species currently known.

It is a map of diversity – diversity that we need to protect. This is also the focus of BASF Agricultural Solutions’ interactive game on biodiversity in agriculture. The loss of natural habitats is one cause of global biodiversity decline and this exhibit shows solutions for modern sustainable agriculture that makes intelligent use of land. In turn, this allows for the most resource-efficient yield without devoting more land to farming. The result is better protection for biodiversity without major decreases in yield.

Another exhibit examines the challenges facing agriculture around the world as a result of climate change. It shows how the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences (IBG-2) at the Forschungszentrum Jülich research center applies state-of -the-art processes to explore, for example, the properties plants will need in the future to cope with increasingly extreme environmental conditions.

UGT’s “EcoUnits” will also be on show, illustrating those ecosystems – highly complex structures – can be investigated under laboratory conditions. And another exhibit, supplied by iDiv, will demonstrate the disastrous impact of European earthworms on North America’s ecosystems.