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Transport Minister Dr. Volker Wissing visits lithium extraction optimization plant in Landau, Rhineland-Palatinate

First plant for the production of green lithium on a ton scale worldwide

Date of publication:
November 29, 2023

Federal Transport Minister Dr. Volker Wissing visited Vulcan's newly opened lithium extraction optimization plant (LEOP) in Landau, Rhineland-Palatinate, on Saturday, 25 November. The LEOP will be the first plant in the world to produce green, climate-neutral lithium on a tonne scale. During his visit, the Transport Minister emphasized the importance of domestic raw material extraction for the German and European battery and automotive industry. Petra Dick-Walther, State Secretary for Economic Affairs in Rhineland-Palatinate, and Hans-Peter Behrens, Member of the Baden-Württemberg State Parliament, also visited the Vulcan plant with Wissing. On the day of the official opening, numerous local politicians and representatives of public interests, such as Dr. Dominik Geissler, Mayor of Landau, and Andreas Tschauder, Head of the Rhineland-Palatinate State Office for Geology and Mining, celebrated the commissioning of the LEOP together with Vulcan representatives.

With the LEOP, Vulcan is also opening the first plant on European soil that will provide lithium extracted entirely in Europe on a ton scale. Vulcan has set itself the goal of becoming the world's first producer of green lithium while at the same time providing renewable energy. Using deep geothermal energy, the company will extract lithium from the lithium-rich, hot brine of the Upper Rhine Graben and at the same time provide renewable energy for local communities and industry. With this project, Vulcan is aiming to establish Europe's first safe and sustainable lithium supply chain and support the German and European battery and automotive industries in their transformation towards a climate-neutral future.

For almost three years, Vulcan successfully tested lithium extraction from the thermal water of the Upper Rhine Graben for 18,000 hours in pilot plants in Insheim and Landau (Rhineland-Palatinate). The results show high lithium extraction rates and use of the sorbent tested without signs of wear over several thousand cycles. Vulcan uses VULSORB®, a sorbent developed in-house, in the process. Compared to conventional products, this has a higher efficiency.

During his visit, the Minister of Transport emphasized the need for domestic raw material production in view of the ramp-up of electromobility. The European Union has decided to phase out combustion engines by 2035. The automotive industry is dependent on the procurement of large quantities of critical battery raw materials. Europe currently obtains more than 80% of the lithium it needs from refineries in China. With the Critical Raw Materials Act and the Net Zero Act, the European Union has underpinned its decision to reduce the existing dependency in this area. Domestic raw materials projects are to be promoted.

"What we are seeing today in Landau with the new Vulcans plant is a small revolution," said Wissing during his visit. "For the first time, a plant will produce tons of lithium entirely in Europe - and in a climate-neutral way. Extracting raw materials locally is the key to a self-sufficient and secure supply for Europe. The extraction of lithium from thermal water in the Upper Rhine Graben is a promising opportunity with great potential to establish a secure, independent lithium supply chain in Europe. This creates new jobs and strengthens Germany as a location for innovation and business."

Successful exchange on the topic of securing skilled workers in the automotive industry in Rastatt

"The technology of tomorrow must be learned today."

Date of publication: November 24, 2023

The further education and training of transformation processes in the automotive industry requires new skills, according to Jochen Ehlgötz, Managing Director of TechnologieRegion Karlsruhe (TRK) GmbH, who hosted the 5th edition of the Business Breakfast Transformation of the Regional Automotive Industry on November 14 in the Reithalle Rastatt in front of around 60 guests. The joint event organized by Automotive Engineering Networks (aen), the city of Rastatt and TRK GmbH showcased support options, funding opportunities and many examples of best practice - also with a view to markets and international specialists.

The transformation is bringing major changes for employees, explained Rastatt's outgoing mayor Hans Jürgen Pütsch, precisely because companies are also thinking in decades: It is necessary to network across borders, according to the head of the town hall, who thanked for the thematic treatment of the topic. It is particularly important that contacts are also established and maintained between companies, after all, change is sometimes already taking place within companies. "This is both a risk and an opportunity," said Pütsch, especially in the area of mobility, where priorities are shifting, "also for politics!"

In a panel discussion with examples of best practice, Julia Kraft, Head of HR at mobility service provider Wackenhut GmbH & Co. KG and Dr. Falk Hartmann, principal of the Carl-Benz-Schule Gaggenau, shared insights into their work with (prospective) trainees. Against the backdrop of changing job profiles and the transformation of technology, alternative drive types, sensor technology and AI must already be taught at school. This makes an intensive dialog between schools and companies all the more important - the technology of tomorrow must be learned today. The discussion showed that appreciating the work, identifying with the company by building up emotions and increasing the value of training can be strategies for attracting and retaining trainees.

Marco Baumgartner from the Institute for Learning and Innovation in Networks (ILIN) at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences used the "KARL" project ("Artificial Intelligence for Work and Learning in the Karlsruhe Region") to shed light on the topic of "future technology AI" and the skills that specialists need for the upcoming transformation. "KARL" addresses skills in the context of AI and examines the implementation of these in companies.

Whether retraining, partial qualification, further training support for employees in companies or careers advice: Tanja Bäuerle and Steffen Dorst from the Employer Service of the Karlsruhe-Rastatt Employment Agency discussed possible support in all phases of working life. Low-threshold offers are important, and a personal approach is also a success factor in the company. When it comes to qualifications, it is important to build on strengths.

Regine Zizelmann from the Baden-Württemberg State Network for Continuing Education Guidance highlighted continuing education guidance as a cross-sectional task for overcoming the shortage of skilled workers: educational guidance is definitely also a management tool and must be brought into companies to combat the shortage of skilled workers.

Petra Bender from the Welcome Center of the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion spoke about attracting and retaining international skilled workers at TRK . The international approach to securing skilled workers is also of enormous importance for the region. Whether companies, local authorities or research institutions: the Welcome Center offers targeted advice, from recruitment and residence law issues to integration into the company.

Tim Siegel from the Landeslotsenstelle Transformationswissen BW addressed the topic of consulting vouchers. Among other things, medium-sized companies in the automotive supply industry could receive support ranging from strategy consulting to process optimization.

Information and further dates can be found at www.ae-network.de and at the Karlsruhe Mobility Lab.

Regional training exchange in Waghäusel - 70 exhibitors present themselves and their job offers

Largest fall training fair on November 25 presents apprenticeships and information on dual study programs

Date of publication: November 20, 2023

What to do after school? Many young people do not yet know what they will do when they receive their leaving certificate. The Waghäusel Regional Training Fair on Saturday, November 25, 2023 offers them guidance and contacts. The largest autumn training fair in the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Wagbachhalle in Waghäusel-Wiesental. Admission is free of charge. The event is organized by Regionale Wirtschaftsförderung Bruchsal (WFG) and the large district town of Waghäusel.

Around 70 employers from the trades, industry and services sectors will be presenting themselves and their diverse career opportunities. Apprentices and training managers will be on hand to talk to visitors in person and answer their questions. In addition to apprenticeships, many exhibitors also have places on dual study programs. Young people and their parents also have the opportunity to receive individual orientation advice and application training at the Waghäusel Regional Training Exchange.

All exhibitors and some of the jobs they are offering can already be found on the event website www.sprungbrett-ausbildung.de/events.

This year's main sponsors of the Waghäusel Regional Training Exchange are the packaging specialists DEBATIN and LINHARDT, the chemical technology company GMM PFAUDLER, the care service providers of the HAUS ENGELBERG Group and SEW-EURODRIVE as an expert in electric drives.

"The Waghäusel Regional Training Exchange is a springboard into the future for young people," says Alexandra Lepp from the WFG. "Here, young people and career changers can set the course for their future careers and make contacts straight away."

"The search for trainees has been one of the top issues for our companies for years," says Thomas Deuschle, Mayor of the town of Waghäusel and member of the WFG Supervisory Board. "Companies need opportunities to get in touch with school pupils and get them interested in an apprenticeship or dual study program - and vice versa. This is exactly what we do with Sprungbrett Ausbildung and the Regional Training Exchange. Take advantage of this great platform!"

Thanks to the bus connection (KVV line 125, stop "Wiesental, Karlsruher Straße") and numerous parking spaces in the immediate vicinity of the Wagbachhalle, the fair is easily accessible. The secondary school and the Waghäusel youth center will provide refreshments and snacks.

Brief information about Sprungbrett Ausbildung
Sprungbrett Ausbildung is the competence center for dual training in the Bruchsal economic region. It is based at Regionale Wirtschaftsförderung Bruchsal GmbH and acts as a platform for companies and schools in the northern district of Karlsruhe. Its services include digital and analog events such as training fairs and trainee speed dating as well as social media consulting for companies.

Further information at www.sprungbrett-ausbildung.de

The training exchange was well attended (Source: Regionale Wirtschaftsförderung Bruchsal GmbH)
The training exchange was well attended (Source: Regionale Wirtschaftsförderung Bruchsal GmbH)
Flyer of the training exchange
Flyer of the training exchange

US ambassador visits GLOBAL 2023 - prize goes to the INIT Group

Presentation of the IHK and TRK foreign trade award in Baden-Baden

Date of publication:
November 16, 2023

Innovation and international cooperation were the central themes of yesterday's GLOBAL 2023 awards ceremony, which took place at the Palais Biron in Baden-Baden. In the presence of US Ambassador Amy Gutmann, the Karlsruhe INIT Group was awarded the foreign trade prize of the Karlsruhe Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion. In his welcoming address, IHK President Wolfgang Grenke emphasized: "This year's award winner is an outstanding example of how the development of innovative environmental and climate technologies, in this case in the areas of transport and traffic, can bring about the green transition and further improve the export capability of German industry. The award winner has been operating very successfully on the US market with its own subsidiaries for a quarter of a century." It is innovative companies like INIT that successfully promote the region to the world and act as ambassadors for the innovation and competitiveness of our regional economy.

The US ambassador emphasized several times how important it is to work together with strong allies, especially in these turbulent times. "It is important to build and maintain partnerships with whom you have common values, strategies and interests - as is the case with the USA and Germany." Amy Gutmann also addressed the venue of the award ceremony and modified the Bill Clinton quote: "Baden-Baden is so nice you have to name it twice" to mean that she would like to not only mention the spa town on the Oos twice, but visit it at least a second time.

Robert W. Huber, Chairman of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Foreign Trade Committee and one of the "fathers" of GLOBAL, explained: "Our community of values as well as the traditional and particularly friendly ties to the USA are a particularly good prerequisite for the economic success of the companies of our Chamber of Industry and Commerce in the United States of America. I assume that Global 2023 will become a motivation for many more companies to open up the market of the world's largest economy for their exports."

"The USA is also of outstanding importance to INIT," emphasized CEO Dr. Jürgen Greschner, who accepted the award on behalf of the INIT Group. With the founding of INIT's first foreign branch in Chesapeake, Virginia/USA in 1999, he played a significant role in the internationalization of the business, which he successfully expanded as Chief Sales Officer from 2004. Today, North America is still the most important and most successful foreign market for the INIT Group, which now supports transportation companies in more than 70 countries.

"The impressive laudatory speech by US Ambassador Doctor Amy Gutmann clearly demonstrated the importance of foreign trade in the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion for its partners worldwide," said TRK Managing Director Jochen Ehlgötz.

The "GLOBAL" is an award that honors companies from the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion every two years for their outstanding international achievements.

US Ambassador Amy Gutmann presented the Global 2023 to Dr. Jürgen Greschner (3rd from right) from the INIT Group (Photo: Fabry)
US Ambassador Amy Gutmann presented the Global 2023 to Dr. Jürgen Greschner (3rd from right) from the INIT Group (Photo: Fabry)
US Ambassador Amy Gutmann presented the Global 2023 to Dr. Jürgen Greschner (3rd from right) from the INIT Group (Photo: Fabry)
US Ambassador Amy Gutmann presented the Global 2023 to Dr. Jürgen Greschner (3rd from right) from the INIT Group (Photo: Fabry)

InformatiKOM officially opened

New Buildings Combine Computer Science and Science Communication at KIT - Klaus Tschira Foundation Hands Over Two Institute Buildings at KIT's South Campus

Date of publication:
November 10, 2023

With InformatiKOM on Adenauerring, the Klaus Tschira Foundation (KTS) has constructed two new buildings for the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) over a three-year construction period, which were officially opened today (November 9, 2023). Covering more than 10,000 square meters, they will bring together institutes of computer science, science communication and applied cultural studies under one roof. The focus is on exchange and encounters between science and the public.

"We are convinced that education and research in and from computer science are central to the future of our society," says Professor Rafael Lang, Managing Director for Research at the Klaus Tschira Foundation. "The intertwining of research and science communication was the greatest motivation for us to make InformatiKOM possible. We are creating first-class learning and research conditions here."

"InformatiKOM at KIT stands for highly relevant scientific tasks, both in terms of construction and content: The new building promotes interdisciplinary dialog and transfer to society. Under one roof, InformatiKOM combines computer science institutes with science communication and applied cultural studies facilities - with the aim of transferring interdisciplinary findings to urban society," says Petra Olschowski, Minister of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg. "The combination of education, research and science communication is also a central concern of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, whose generous support has made it possible to realize InformatiKOM. As a place for research and dialog, I wish InformatiKOM and everyone who is shaping the future here every success and lots of ideas."

"With InformatiKOM, we are reaching another milestone not only in interdisciplinary teaching and research at KIT, but especially in the dialog with society that is so important to us," says Professor Oliver Kraft, representing the President of KIT. "With the facilities that are united here under one roof and the open spaces, citizens can participate even better in science and provide important impulses. We would like to thank the Klaus Tschira Foundation for its great commitment."

"Sustainability is a particular concern for our properties and buildings. I am delighted that InformatiKOM is making an important contribution to this with the BNB sustainability seal. The clever integration of the new buildings will organize and enhance the existing urban development situation. The powerful ensemble of buildings points the way to the campus. In this way, the desired networking with the city is created, which we are also striving for in other places," says Ursula Orth, Head Building Director of the Karlsruhe Office of the Baden-Württemberg State Office for Property and Construction.

"InformatiKOM takes the idea of a dialogical approach between science and society to a completely new dimension by involving all citizens. This corresponds exactly to the goals that the City of Karlsruhe is also pursuing with its science office, namely: that science can discuss its important issues and research results intensively with society," says Karlsruhe's Lord Mayor Dr. Frank Mentrup.

10,000 square meters for exchange and encounters
InformatiKOM forms the central entrance to the extension of KIT's South Campus in the immediate vicinity of the main entrance to the South Campus, the KIT library and the Audimax. With the two parts of the building, the Klaus Tschira Foundation has provided KIT with a total of around 10,000 square meters of institute and learning space. Users of the larger InformatiKOM 1 building include the Robot Design Atelier, the Science-Media-Communication course, the Center for Applied Cultural Studies and Studium Generale (ZAK) and the National Institute for Science Communication (NaWik) in addition to computer science institutes. The smaller adjacent building InformatiKOM 2 houses the Center for Digital Accessibility and Assistive Technologies, ACCESS@KIT for short.

The two parts of the building were designed by Darmstadt-based architects Bernhardt + Partner Architekten in such a way that they promote encounters between computer science and science communication as well as exchange with the public. The two-storey laboratory for measurement and control technology, which is located in the center of the building, is designed in such a way that visitors can gain an insight into the scientific work of robotics through a glazed area on the first floor. Three wide foyer staircases connect the open room areas from the first floor to the third floor and also serve as seating areas. The lower foyer staircase will also be used as a grandstand for public lectures and events. The open atrium with a transparent air cushion roof, which connects all floors and learning areas, also creates free space for encounters. The two InformatiKOM buildings were donated by the Klaus Tschira Foundation to the state of Baden-Württemberg, which in turn has given them to KIT for use.

Handing over the keys at InformatiKOM (from left to right): Prof. Oliver Kraft, representing the President of KIT; Ursula Orth, Senior Construction Director of the Karlsruhe Office of the Baden-Württemberg State Office for Property and Construction (VBA); Prof. Rafael Lang, Managing Director Research of the Klaus Tschira Foundation (KTS), architect Sven Bachmann, Bernhardt + Partner architectural office, ARMAR-6. (Photo: Amadeus Bramsiepe, KIT)
Handing over the keys at InformatiKOM (from left to right): Prof. Oliver Kraft, representing the President of KIT; Ursula Orth, Senior Construction Director of the Karlsruhe Office of the Baden-Württemberg State Office for Property and Construction (VBA); Prof. Rafael Lang, Managing Director Research of the Klaus Tschira Foundation (KTS), architect Sven Bachmann, Bernhardt + Partner architectural office, ARMAR-6. (Photo: Amadeus Bramsiepe, KIT)
Handing over the keys at InformatiKOM (from left to right): Prof. Oliver Kraft, representing the President of KIT; Ursula Orth, Senior Construction Director of the Karlsruhe Office of the Baden-Württemberg State Office for Property and Construction (VBA); Prof. Rafael Lang, Managing Director Research of the Klaus Tschira Foundation (KTS), architect Sven Bachmann, Bernhardt + Partner architectural office, ARMAR-6. (Photo: Amadeus Bramsiepe, KIT)
Handing over the keys at InformatiKOM (from left to right): Prof. Oliver Kraft, representing the President of KIT; Ursula Orth, Senior Construction Director of the Karlsruhe Office of the Baden-Württemberg State Office for Property and Construction (VBA); Prof. Rafael Lang, Managing Director Research of the Klaus Tschira Foundation (KTS), architect Sven Bachmann, Bernhardt + Partner architectural office, ARMAR-6. (Photo: Amadeus Bramsiepe, KIT)

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Further topics
UITP-Karlsruhe Mobility Innovation Partnership
The mobility competence field of the Karlsruhe TechnologyRegion (TRK) is being bundled and expanded together with the World Association of Public Transport UITP in the "UITP Karlsruhe Mobility Innovation Partnership".
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