Dr. rer. nat. Urs Ruth
Incredible change lies ahead of us. The fight against climate change will alter all of our lives.
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision is merely passing time. But vision with action can change the world.” - Nelson Mandela
After completing my degree in physics, I worked for eight years in the field of climate and polar research, where I obtained valuable knowledge about the climate system and climate change. I then transferred to Bosch, where I first served in the Automotive Electronics Business Unit in Reutlingen (Germany) and Plymouth (USA) – first as project and later as group manager in series development of electronic control units for products such as ABS and ESP. In 2015, I transferred to Bosch Research as an expert for climate change and the energy transition. In this role I consult in strategic issues across all levels, from research projects to the CEO and Supervisory Board. Additionally, since 2020 I have been the co-chair of our Strategic Research Portfolio for Sustainability.
- Bosch, Corporate Research: Megatrends and future research, expert on climate and energy; co-chair of Strategic Research Portfolio for Sustainability
- Bosch Automotive Electronics division: Project manager for electronic control unit development for ABS & ESP, group leader for layout printed circuit board and ceramics (Reutlingen and Plymouth, USA).
- Climate and polar research: Climate reconstruction from ice cores; PhD on concentration and size distribution of microparticles in NGRIP Ice Core Project, central Greenland; University of Heidelberg and Alfred Wegener Institute Bremerhaven
- Degree in physics; University of Marburg and University of Alberta in Edmonton (Canada).
U. Ruth et al. (2003)Continuous record of microparticle concentration and size distribution in the central Greenland NGRIP ice core during the last glacial period
- U.R. et al. …
- Journal of Geophysical Research, 108 (D3), 2002JD002376
NGRIP Project Members (2004)High-resolution record of the Northern Hemisphere climate extending into the last interglacial period
- K.K.A. et al. …
- Nature, 431, 147-151, 2004
E. W Wolff. et al. (2006)Southern Ocean sea-ice extent, productivity and iron flux over the past eight glacial cycles
- E.W.W. et al. …
- Nature, 440, 491-496, 2006
EPICA Community Members (2006)One-to-one coupling of glacial climate variability in Greenland and Antarctica
- C.B. et al. …
- Nature, 444, 195-198
Interview with Dr. rer. nat. Urs Ruth
Chief Expert Energy and Climate Change
Please tell us what fascinates you most about research.
What I love about research is that you are asked to be curious. Knowledge is very important, too, of course; but the most important thing in science and research is to be curious! When you see something new and your reaction is “Ah, I know why that happens …” then you are certainly smart and knowledgeable. But when you see something new and your reaction is “Oh, that’s weird! Why does that happen?” … then you know you are a researcher.
What makes research done at Bosch so special?
The interdisciplinary nature of the Bosch Research campus is amazing: engineers, physicists, chemists, biologists, computer scientists and many other fields of expertise are represented at one location. This is extremely exciting. Another aspect is personal responsibility. Researchers do their best work when they are intrinsically motivated and can give free rein to their creativity. Of course, our applied corporate research differs from publicly funded basic research. But that is what makes it so attractive: Many of the innovations from our research later end up in our products.
What research topics are you currently working on at Bosch?
Climate change, the energy transition and other topics such as pollution and atmospheric chemistry are a broad field of expertise. To be honest, there is little research that I still do myself. But I review all these topics with the goal of getting as close as possible to the scientific core. This includes topics such as the physical causes of climate change, projections of future climate and sustainable future scenarios. Another important topic are public and political trends regarding climate action. It is very important for us to understand all of these issues and to draw the proper conclusions for ourselves as a company and for our products.
What are the biggest scientific challenges in your field of research?
If you consider scenarios without greenhouse gas emissions, there are two solution archetypes: One is to stop using energy, i.e. to maximize energy sufficiency and efficiency. But “the people” will not like the changes in lifestyle that go along with this, so this solution will not work. The other solution archetype is to provide all the energy we want in a sustainable and renewable way. However, it would take a long time to establish this and it would be prohibitively expensive. The challenge now is to find all the viable solutions between these two extremes and to do so quickly enough that we stay within the boundaries of a +1.5°C or at least well below +2°C warming limit. – This answer may be a bit abstract, but it describes the core of the challenge in my opinion.
How do the results of your research become part of solutions "Invented for life"?
Many of our products today have a considerable fossil footprint. Think of diesel and gasoline power trains in the automotive sector or gas-fired heating equipment for buildings and industry. To address this, we are working in many different ways to transform our product portfolio. For example, this includes the development of battery or fuel-cell electric drives, and electric and hydrogen-based heating systems. But it also covers the development of processes for assessing the environmental impact of products throughout their lifecyle, advanced recycling concepts and eco-engineering strategies.