In this blogpost, Lisa Friedrichs shares her internship experience at the Vulcan Energie Ressourcen GmbH. Students of the Environmental Pollution Management (Ecotoxicology) Program complete an 8-week internship each year, the so-called “AMEO”. The AMEO is performed either at an external university, governmental or industrial research institute where students learn to apply the competences achieved during their study. Students also use this opportunity to travel and explore Germany.
“In May and June 2023, I conducted my AMEO internship at Vulcan Energie Ressourcen GmbH, a company founded in 2018 with a visionary mission: leading the way towards a zero-carbon future. Vulcan’s primary objective is to produce the world’s first net-zero carbon lithium. Lithium plays a major role in the electrification of the transport and mobility sector and is considered a key element for a carbon-lean economy. Conventional lithium mining technologies are associated with a high environmental impact. Vulcan’s approach involves extracting lithium and energy from geothermal fluid. This fluid is pumped to the earth’s surface from a natural reservoir located at a depth of approximately 3 km in the Upper Rhine Valley. In a closed loop, heat and lithium are being extracted and the geothermal fluid is re-injected afterward. This renewable process does not have any direct emissions and requires low land and water usage. One of the big advantages is that renewable heat and electricity are being produced as co-products.
To meet its ambitious goals, it is imperative for Vulcan to gain a comprehensive understanding of the environmental impact associated with all aspects of the operation. This implies the quantification across scope 1,2 and 3 emissions throughout the entire life cycle of the project. This task can be accomplished by using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as a tool. My internship was being initiated by a research and development project with the aim of bringing new insights into the environmental impact assessment of geothermal systems and to assess the benefit of implementing innovations. My task was to develop and implement a robust LCA methodology. This involved extensive research of the current state-of-the-art LCA practices and the exploration of practical ways to seamlessly integrate LCA into the company’s day-to-day operations. For this, the collection and managing of data plays a major role. I had the privilege of working closely with experienced colleagues who provided invaluable guidance and mentorship. I gained knowledge in areas such as German and European regulations and the management of substantial datasets. This internship has been a great experience, allowing me to contribute to a groundbreaking mission while simultaneously enhancing my skills and knowledge in the field of LCA.
Since the company is located close to my home, I was able to continue with my everyday life. I usually spent the lunch breaks together with my collegues in the office. I would recommend an internship in this company if you enjoy working independently and don’t need a lot of guidance.”
Here are some beautiful glimpses from Lisa’s AMEO:-