Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Danish history (and batteries)

Today we traveled from Copenhagen to the small town of Søndervig on the other side of the country. Along the way we stopped at important Danish heritage sites in addition to the University of Southern Denmark, where we heard a lecture from a professor doing research on improving batteries.
Today we travelled from Copenhagen on the far eastern edge of Denmark to Søndervig on the far western edge. Along the way we made stops at some fascinating locations.

First, we made a stop at the Trelleborg Viking Fortress, which contains original earthen mounds used as walls for the fortress. It also has outlines of the locations of original buildings that were located in and around the fortress.

In addition, the fortress has a replica Viking ship and Viking longhouse. For both of these, Professor Imbertson's carpentry history came in handy for explaining the craftsmanship behind each interesting structure.

Professor Imbertson describing the nails used in Viking ships
Professor Imbertson explaining the clever ways in which the Vikings managed to construct their ships.

Crossing the moat in to Trelleborg Fortress
Crossing the moat to the fortress.

The Viking Longhouse
The Viking longhouse

Essam in the Viking longhouse
Essam looking regal in the Viking longhouse.

After learning a bit about Viking craftsmanship and history, we continued our drive west. We crossed over the world's second-longest bridge to go from Zealand to Funen, a neighboring island.

On Funen, we grabbed lunch and headed off to the University of Southern Denmark, where we were treated to a lecture by Dr. Dorthe B. Ravnsbæk on novel battery technology.

The latest innovations may allow for smaller, lighter, and cheaper batteries, which would have the potential to revolutionize the way we think about electrical power and open the door for more practical storage of energy from renewable sources (i.e. solar or wind) during non-peak hours of the day.

Learning about batteries
Dr. Ravnsbæk explaining the changes in the anode crystal structure that can improve performance.

Learning about x-ray crystallography
Dr. Ravnsbæk showing the group an x-ray crystallography machine used to study crystal structure.

Following her fascinating talk, we got back on the bus and continued our drive to Jutland, the part of Denmark that exists on mainland Europe.

On the way we stopped in Jelling, the site of a church and massive burial mounds created for the first king and queen of Denmark, King Gorm the Old and Queen Thyra.

Gorm is the first historically recognized king of Denmark, ruling until his death in 958. It was under his reign that Denmark became a united nation.

To commemorate this, a large granite rune stone was created that established Denmark's autonomy. This rune stone is considered to be the birth certificate of Denmark and is a popular tourist destination.

Runestone of Harald Bluetooth
One of the rune stones commemorating the unification of Denmark.

Runestone of Gorm
The other rune stone, made by Gorm to commemorate the life of Thyra after her death.

Silver marker designating the location of Gorm's remains
Silver marker designating the location of Gorm's remains. His body was moved from the burial mound inside the church in adherence with new Christian customs.

Today was a wonderful day of travel that lent valuable insight to both the history of Denmark and the future of energy storage technology. Dr. Ravnsbæk's lecture was a fascinating peek at the cutting edge of battery technology that gave exciting news for the future capabilities of energy storage, which will make inconsistent renewable energy sources (like wind and solar) more practical in the coming years.

Tomorrow we will have the opportunity to tour production facilities for the major wind turbine producers in Denmark, Siemens, and Vestas.