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GPPS Forum18

10th - 12th January 2018

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GPPS Zurich 18 Testimonials

Dan Burnes
Manager, Aero/Thermal & Performance, Solar Turbines Incorporated

I enjoyed the discussions concerning changes and trends of the global natural gas infrastructure, knowing that natural gas remains the most environmentally friendly fossil fuel bridging the planet to a low-carbon future.

The panel touched on current state of the natural gas supply chain, including exploration & production, transmission, processing, transportation, and distribution. The panel discussed an overview of natural gas operations, emerging technology, economics, and a system approach to improving efficiency. The panel noted the increasing construction of LNG terminals, and increase in US export of LNG. I learned the rapidly growing need for energy storage due to a significant portion of the electrical energy base load being transitioned to renewables. In some countries, like the US, pipeline networks and gas fired engines, do provide part of the localized energy storage need.

The panel also had much to say about the energy infrastructure in China. Though China has much in terms of natural gas reserves from shale gas, they have focused more on implementing renewable solar energy from their cost competitive Photovoltaic (PV) technology. Very soon within China, coal power plants will be proportionally replaced by PV rather than gas turbines using abundantly available shale gas.

Another point of interest was the energy dependence of Europe on natural gas from Russia. The panel noted the history lesson to be learned from previous changes in the global natural gas infrastructure.
Prof. Dr. Gian-Luca Bona
CEO Empa

Panel P6: Advanced Manufacturing:

In the panel discussion about advanced manufacturing (AM) four re-nowned speakers from industrial leaders have highlighted their in-tentions, interests and strategies. They all pointed out that indus-trialization in AM is currently happening from a hobby to a real industry.  In the keynote presented by Carlos Härtel, CTO GE EMEA it became clear that additive technologies of 3D Metal printing is a reality and already playing a pivotal role in various areas such as manufacturing of turbines for aerospace and gas turbine applica-tions. GE has invested substantially in novel lightweight materials such as super-alloys that can be processed by selective laser meting or by E-beam as well as in novel machine systems for 3-D printing. Among the major advantages are the possibilities to design novel components with enhanced functionalities while having substantially lower number of parts compared to conventionally produced systems, hence reduced weight, and consequently lower cost. All the speakers (Florian Mauerer, OC Oerlikon, BU Head Additive Manufacturing, Dr. Soeren Wiener, Honeywell Aero Manufacturing Engineering, Director Technology & Advanced Operations and Dr. Markus Seibold, Siemens Power & Gas, Head of Additive Manufacturing) added to this message by presenting additional examples from their own sector. They high-lighted that the key factors for success are: i) advanced materials and processes ii) application engineering and digital design for new functions as well as iii) efficient production and post processing while using in-line quality monitoring. AM is becoming a game chang-er for manufacturing industries across all sectors. This shift is enabled by exploiting synergies in cross-functional R&D and applica-tions engineering teams that are well connected within the company as well as look for new opportunities in the marketplace.   
Wolfgang Korosec, CIO
St.Galler Stadtwerke

For me, as a representative of one of the larger utilities in Switzerland, it was highly interesting and inspiring to follow the discussion on digitalization at the GPPS Forum in Zurich. Digitalization is probably one of hottest topics in the energy industry in those days. Most of the energy companies expect the future to be “3D” - decentralized, decarbonized and digital, but today only a few of them are able to turn these megatrends into a business strategy or new business models. For smaller companies digitalization is a culture and know-how problem. Events like the GPPS Forum help managers of those companies to look beyond the boundaries of their own industry. It is a great place to develop new ideas and insights in discussions with experts working in different fields, coming from all over the globe.

My three favorite personal learnings from the digitalization track at the GPPS forum:
1. Digitalization is not new – Alan Epstein from Pratt & Whitney showed us, that his company is using it since 1960. Today it is the combination of processing power, storage capacity, high speed networks and innovative algorithms , which makes the difference – especially in the field of predictive analytics and maintenance, machine learning and customer engagement.

2. Digital models are already a key success factor in the energy industry. The big players are using them extensively – the smaller companies have to catch up.

3. Digitalization is a corporate culture challenge – “fail often, fail early, fail cheap” is not in the DNA of a typical Swiss utility.

Prof. Alberto Traverso

Professor of Energy Systems

Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica (DIME) - Sez. MASET


Prof. Valentina Zaccaria

Mälardalens Högskola


The aim of the panel was to discuss the twofold mission of knowledge elaboration and transfer present in Academia, and the role of applied academic research in pursuing such twofold mission. This is true in all different disciplines, including engineering; however, differing from other sectors, engineering is required to “fill in the gap” between theory and practice. The role of Academia is to strengthen the cooperation among industry, large-scale research, and academic research. The impact of research on the society is the key to judge the goodness of the approach and reward applied research; assessing this impact is however a challenge.

Interactions between Academia and industry seem fundamental to guarantee an effective impact of applied research. Education prepares students on low TRL, corresponding to fundamental research, while industry has the subsequent task of investing time and money to train them to higher TRLs. An alternative approach is to go from practical problems back to university research, which can help students gain the right skills and attitude for a career in industry. A continuous feedback from industry to academia is therefore necessary to ensure this virtuous cycle. In this way, Academia can anticipate industrial needs and challenges.

Several examples from U.S., Europe, and Asia were presented. The role requested from Academia is to broaden the education rather than deepen it, providing inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary training and research. The skills that Academia is required to teach for preparing successful engineers are nowadays less technical and include communication and leadership skills.

In conclusion, a continuous and bidirectional communication is needed between industry and academic world to ensure that research outcomes impact both education and future industrial needs. Access and interaction with industry should be a result of an effort from both sides. Since the needs from both sides are different and somehow complementary, it is important to point out the capability and value brought by Academia in this interaction.

Global Power and Propulsion Society (GPPS)


Address :

Landis + Gyr-Strasse 1, 6300 Zug, Switzerland

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+41 44 632 50 72

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