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Thomas Börner was born on the 3rd of July 1987 in Bad Homburg v.d.H. He finished his A-levels at the Humboldt-Gymnasium Bad Homburg with specialization in physics as well as economics and politics with distinction.
After his mandatory community service Thomas began his Mechanical Engineering Bachelor's studies at RWTH Aachen University which he completed under the first five percent. In his Bachelor's studies Thomas started to focus on Energy Technologies as well as Fluid Dynamics.
After an additional internship in the field of Wind Energy Generation at different places in Germany and China, Thomas started his Mechanical Engineering Master's studies in the field of Energy Technologies with a major in Renewable Energy Technologies and an ongoing focus on Fluid Dynamics. In parallel, Thomas started an additional Master's in the field of Business, Economics and Management. Thomas graduated with a double Master's degree in these two subjects in summer 2015.
During his Master's thesis which Thomas conducted at the Theoretical and Applied Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (TAF Lab) at the University of California, Berkeley, he started working on the development and optimization of a novel wave energy converter design to harvest energy from ocean waves. The research and related results led to three publications and his current PhD research.
Since September 2015 Thomas works at UC Berkeley as a permanent visiting researcher while his research is supervised by Prof. Norbert Hoffmann of the "Dynamics Group" at TU Hamburg-Harburg as well as by Prof. Reza Alam at the University of California, Berkeley.
Next to wind, solar, geothermal energy and biomass, marine energy and specifically wave energy has to be named as one of the largest renewable energy sources. Due to concentrated research and development during the past decades, wind and solar energy have reached a technology readiness level, allowing these technologies to get used in an economic and technological reasonable way.
Despite an immense potential, as well as a much higher availability and energy density compared to other renewable energy sources, wave energy conversion is still at a stage as wind energy was about twenty to thirty years ago. Because of the complexity of the research field, there is no specific design on which industry and research groups can focus on: The complex mechanisms of the energy absorption as well as the harsh ocean environment requests new approaches in research, design and construction which make the research in ocean wave energy conversion highly dynamic and challenging.
The aim of the PhD research is the further design, development, and optimization of a novel wave energy converter by efficient absorber structures and dynamically controlled energy conversion systems. The assessed wave converter represents an area absorber which mimics the high absorption efficiency of muddy seafloors and which is driven by the dynamic pressure differential of the ocean waves. Next to the investigation of the wave-absorber interaction, the operation of the converter should be optimized by the use of dynamically controlled power conversion systems, such as hydraulic power take-offs. To achieve this, innovative measurement systems (Hybrid Modelling) should be used, which can efficiently reveal optimization potential by coupling numeric simulations with experiments. Both, simulation and experiment run in parallel while exchanging information in real time.
Next to this, questions concerning the deployment and operation of the wave energy converter should also be tackled. The deployment and operation of a scaled prototype in an ocean environment is highly anticipated.