The Challenge of Future Mobility – Students Evaluate Alternative Fuels with the CBL Approach

The Challenge of Future Mobility - Students Evaluate Alternative Fuels with the CBL Approach

The Institute for Environmental Technology and Energy Economics has a thematic focus on the technical-economic-ecological evaluation of alternative fuels. The existing knowledge and methodological approaches to working with and evaluating alternative fuels for the transport transition will be made available to TUHH Master’s students through the “Advanced Fuels” module. Students should learn to deal with novel approaches, complex systems and uncertain data bases and subsequently be able to make reflected statements. The implementation of the module was supported by the ECIU and ZLL Call 17 for the first run in the winter semester 2020/21. The aim is to make the module available to partner universities from ECIU University in the coming years and to integrate international students into the module process. The following guest article was written by Daniel Christ.

The three-hour final event of the “Advanced Fuels” module took place on 27.01.2021. Over the course of the semester, the students examined the possible future paths of sustainable fuel supply. During the course, the various possible solutions in the context of the energy transition, or more specifically the transport transition, were reflected upon, compared with each other and indicators for possible expansion paths were developed. Throughout the semester, the students took a closer look at one of these possible solutions using the challenge-based learning approach and worked out the relevant advantages and disadvantages. The aim of the final event was to stimulate an exciting and extensive discussion between the different working groups.

At the beginning of the semester, the students were divided into three working groups, in which they should and could organise themselves freely and independently. Each working group had one of the alternative fuel paths as its thematic focus. The fuel paths worked on were biofuels, hydrogen and synthetic fuels. As a framework condition, the students were given the task of methodically developing a total of three sustainability criteria for the respective fuel path and then applying them accordingly. In order to ensure a certain comparability of the fuel paths, the criteria of CO2 emissions and total operating costs were defined after an initial research phase. In addition, all working groups were asked to define a sustainability criterion that is specific to their own fuel pathway and to work on its significance for the respective fuel pathway.

During the final event, which took place digitally via Zoom, the technological processes, the balance limits used and the basic advantages and disadvantages of the fuel paths were first presented to the other working groups. Afterwards, expert commissions were formed by the students. At least one person from each working group was to go to the expert commissions on CO2 emissions and total operating costs and collect and discuss the results and findings of the working groups together on a mural (a collaborative online tool). The independent organisation within the expert commission as well as the subsequent way of presenting the results was left free to the students as an additional challenge. The diversity of the collected results and findings can be seen in the pictured mural board from the working phase. At the end of the event, the fuel pathway-specific sustainability criteria were presented and the groups reflected on each other’s findings.

The cooperation, independence and motivation of the students must be positively emphasised throughout the semester. This was particularly visible in the final event. The lively discussions among each other, the exemplary preparation and the adequate classification of the literature sources found as a basis for their own work should be mentioned here. In the final feedback round, the students specifically mentioned the increase in competence in dealing with reflection on literature sources of diverse origins. The team of teachers is already looking forward to the coming winter semester and further exciting discussions.

The contribution image “Advanced Fuels Logo” by Anne Rödl is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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