Justin at Hannover Messe

Hannover Messe 2014: e-vehicle technology powers ahead

E&T magazine is again a preferred media partner for this year's Hannover Messe showcase of industrial and engineering technology innovation. This last of three previews surveys in brief the technology-specific trade shows that make-up Hannover Messe 2014 - and includes details of FREE ENTRY for IET members.

It's the world's leading annual showcase for industrial and related technologies, with last year's visitor numbers exceeding 217,000 attendees and 6,550 exhibitors from 65 nations. Hannover Messe 2014 (Hanover, Germany, 7-11 April) will feature seven flagship fairs taking place under this year's banner theme of 'Integrated Industry' - a theme that signals the event's key foci on the growing integration of all areas of industry, and a recognition of the steps industry needs to take in order to get from its smart-factory vision to a functioning, integrated Industry 4.0 factory. The seven component Trade Fairs are Digital Factory, Energy, Industrial Automation, Industrial Supply, IndustrialGreenTec, MobiliTec, and Research & Technology.

Products that were developed for use in space have now also begun performing their services here on Earth. For instance, sensors that calculate the re-entry angle of spacecraft are used by the Deutsche Bahn to check brakes. Cameras that were mounted on vehicles for planetary exploration for ESA missions in 2001 now create 3D videos for medical and industrial purposes. New satellite modems for broadband Internet communication also originated with technology from the European Space Agency (ESA); and the lifecycle management tool TruePLM, developed for the space agency, is now used to increase efficiency in the oil and gas industries. Yet astrophysicists and physicists are, nonetheless, still sometimes asked: how does the public really benefit from 'Big Science' research projects, such as the ESA's Moon and Mars missions, or particle accelerators in the Large Hadron Collider at nuclear research organisation CERN?

The technologies that are developing in 2014 require 10 years before they can be used commercially in a way that can be affordably manufactured for market, says Enrico Chesta, head of the technology transfer section at CERN Knowledge Transfer Group, who is preparing a joint appearance of the ESA and CERN at Hannover Messe 2014 (Hall 2, Stand D54). However, past and current spin-off successes speak on behalf of researchers.

In this way, proton therapy to treat cancer was based on findings in elementary physics. Combined PET/CT scanners, which were developed at CERN and other places in the 1970s, have improved cancer diagnoses. And arguably the research centre's most famous spin-off has indisputably changed the world in the past two decades: CERN computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee changed the foundation of the World Wide Web with HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). Smaller examples are the solar modules that keep the Geneva airport warm in the winter and cool in the summer: the system contains vacuum technology developed at CERN for particle acceleration.

ESA and CERN spin-off programs are expanding. Discoveries that ended up coincidentally being used in business in the past are now systematically transferred. "The transfer of technology is a major concern of both organisations," says CERN's Chesta. "It is the first time ever that we are exhibited together at an industrial trade show. We want to demonstrate that elementary technology can be used by industrial applications."

A treaty for the co-operation between physicists who study both the infinitely small and the infinitely large ends of the universe, is now under discussion.

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