The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences actively exploits its application-oriented research results. To this end, we regularly screen for potentially exploitable inventions, in close consultation with the scientific sections. Potential inventions are evaluated by us with regard to their inventive content and marketability and are registered as IP rights in close consultation with the inventors.

The IP management of the Transfer & Innovation team represents the GFZ in all matters concerning industrial property rights. It is responsible for registering and enforcing IP rights for which employees of the research center are involved in the underlying inventions. In particular, it safeguards the innovative edge resulting from research and development work.

You are employed at the GFZ and have an idea that could possibly be patented?

Feel free to contact us. For initial information, you can also refer to the inventor directive available on the intranet.

The GFZ currently holds about 30 intellectual property rights in the form of granted patents or pending patent applications. Within the scope of technology transfer, these rights are licensed to existing companies or spin-offs. Please contact us if you are interested in licensing. Some current property rights are presented below:

Rapid Alert Indicator

This monitoring system for predicting process disturbances in biogas plants is based on three patented rapid alert indicators. These are suitable for the early identification of process disturbances in biogas plants (agricultural, sewage sludge and / or waste containing lipids) and also wastewater treatment plants. The rapid alert indicators show the relationship between the concentrations. The indicator A / el Con provides information about the organic acids in relation to the electrical conductivity in agricultural biogas plants and the other two parameters oSCa (ratio of organic acids to calcium concentration) and P / CA (phosphate to calcium concentration) are used in biogas plants with sewage sludge and / or waste containing lipids. These parameters can be measured inexpensively by employees on site.

Relevant patents: DE102008044204 B4, DE102012107410 B4, DE102018105035 B3.

Geothermal energy generation

The proposed method uses both carbon dioxide as an energy exchange medium for geothermal energy generation and the special properties of underground salt structures. In addition, a partially closed circuit and the heat transfer over a variably adjustable area (boundary area of the cavern and overburden salt rock for setting the necessary porosity and permeability) are used. For this purpose, liquid carbon dioxide is fed into the depths via a heat-insulated injection line and expanded into a pressure-tight closed salt cavity via a throttle valve. In the tunnel, heat is transferred from the interfaces to the carbon dioxide, which leads to a phase transition to supercritical carbon dioxide. The supercritical carbon dioxide rises advectively via a heat-insulated, larger-sized riser and fills a higher-lying reservoir with lower temperatures. Here the carbon dioxide is used to drive a two-phase turbine. Alternatively, the two-phase turbine can be placed above ground and the carbon dioxide can be cooled with air or water.

Relevant patent applications: CA 3,089,600, CN 112413915 A, DE 102019122588 A1, EP3783276 A1

Ion sputter structuring

Challenge: Ion sputtering is an inherently inefficient process where ion generation efficiencies below 0.1% are the norm. The ability to increase the efficiency of ion production in secondary ion mass spectrometers would greatly expand the technological capabilities of this analytical method. It is proposed to use nanostructures created on the surface of the sample to create electric field gradients that convert a significant number of secondary neutrals into ions that are then available for analysis.

Proposed solution: It is proposed to use optical lithography to print nested comb structures with distances between the comb teeth in the order of 10-7 m on the sample surface. By applying a voltage of 100 V between the two combs, a surface-parallel field gradient of 109 V / m could be achieved, bringing the near-surface environment into the area in which field emission mechanisms are active. The areas between the two ridges would remain available for analysis.

The following picture shows the geometry of the proposed comb structure. The distance between the teeth is on the order of 100 nm and the end electrodes are biased with +/- 100 V.

Relevant patent applications: EP20700487, US 17/421,830

Glass fiber viscosity measurement

With the help of a fiber optic measuring cable, locally distributed strain data is collected, e.g. in a borehole. The viscosity-dependent shear forces, which are transmitted to the surface of the fiber sensor by the flowing fluid, stretch the fiber-optic measuring cable. This elongation and the elongation gradients of the optical measuring fiber are evaluated in terms of location and time, and the viscosity is determined from this.

The fiber optic measuring cable can be attached to one or more discrete points on a pipe wall, but otherwise freely (possibly provided with an initial tensile stress) in the fluid flow.

The fluid creates a tangential force (friction) on the measuring device and thus a location-dependent expansion of the optical fiber. This expansion can be detected optically. The fluid viscosity can be derived (time-resolved, if necessary) from the expansion curve along the cable. A special feature of this measuring principle is the evaluation of the expansion gradient (the gradient) over fiber intervals that are mechanically coupled to the borehole (e.g. to the casing). Changes in pressure and temperature mean that the positions of the mechanical coupling points are not constant, with the result that the fiber expands or compresses overall between two points. The evaluation of the expansion gradient is independent of the coupling.

Relevant patent applications: EP3730926 A1

Cold fatty acid

A fatty acid structural element was identified, which, after being incorporated into a fatty acid membrane, extremely increases fluidity and thus increases resistance to lower temperatures.

The provision of new fatty acids for cryopreservation and / or in food or medical technology to particularly increase the resistance of the cells to low temperatures is an innovative task. Applications in the stem cell area are also conceivable.

Relevant patent: EP3190099 B1


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