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Bachelor- and Masterthesis

Current proposals for topics of bachelor- and master thesis you find on the following page.
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Alterantive Fuels
Owing to the increasing cost of fossil-derived fuels such as heating oil and natural gas, there is increasing commercial interest in alternative fuels. One alternative is fuels obtained from biomass, i.e. plant matter. Such alternative (i.e. substitute) fuels are being used in existing or new combustion plants.

Fuels suitable for burning and yielding energy are those which have a minimum calorific value and thus burn autonomously. Hence an optimal combination of fuels and combustion techniques is the basic prerequisite for an effective and environmentally friendly exploitation of energy.

Of particular interest here is the possibility of obtaining energy without directly affecting the global CO2 balance by using renewables (so-called biofuels).

 

Within this research focus the following research projects are associated:


Renewable Power Generation by Solar Particle Receiver Driven Sulphur Storage Cycle
(PEGASUS)
PEGASUS will investigate a novel power cycle for renewable electricity production combining a solar centrifugal particle receiver with a sulphur storage system for baseload operation. The proposed process combines streams of solid particles as heat transfer fluid that can also be used for direct thermal energy storage, with indirect thermochemical storage of solar energy in solid sulphur, rendering thus a solar power plant capable of round-the-clock renewable electricity production.

Process scheme of the solar sulphur cycle / Image source: DLR

The overall objective of PEGASUS is the development and demonstration of an innovative solar tower system based on solid particles combined with a novel thermochemical solar energy storage technology based on elemental sulphur, to achieve dispatchable and firm renewable electricity generation with a significant cost reduction with respect to current state-of-the-art concepts. The technology will be validated under real on- sun concentrated solar irradiation in the Solar Tower Jülich (STJ) thermal plant in Germany owned by the Project Coordinator, DLR.
In this perspective, the project’s specific Technical Objectives of KIT are:
  • To develop and realize a novel lab-scale sulphur burner able to modulate in a range of 10-50 kW with quantitative targets: sulphur combustion with >99 % combustion efficiency at power densities > 1,5 MW/m3 under atmospheric conditions (3 times higher than conventional sulphur combustion chambers) and flame temperatures > 1400 °C.
  • To demonstrate the feasibility of the over-all proposed process, draft the complete flowsheet and analysis of optimized integrated process scaled-up to the 5MWth power level, assess the technology vs. the targets set.

More information is published in a press-release of KIT and on the public website of the project (link below)


Advanced direct biogas fuel processor for robust and cost-effective decentralised hydrogen production
(BIOROBURplus)
BioROBURplus builds upon the closing FCH JU BioROBUR project (direct biogas oxidative steam reformer) to develop an entire pre-commercial fuel processor delivering 50 Nm3/h (i.e. 107 kg/d) of 99.9% hydrogen from different biogas types (landfill gas, anaerobic digestion of organic wastes, anaerobic digestion of wastewater-treatment sludges) in a cost-effective manner. The energy efficiency of biogas conversion into H2 will exceed 80% on a HHV basis, due to the following main innovations:
  • increased internal heat recovery enabling minimisation of air feed to the reformer based on structured cellular ceramics coated with stable and easily recyclable noble metal catalysts with enhanced coking resistance;
  • a tailored pressure-temperature-swing adsorption (PTSA) capable of exploiting both pressure and low T heat recovery from the processor to drive H2 separation from CO2 and N2;
  • a recuperative burner based on cellular ceramics capable of exploiting the low enthalpy PTSA-off-gas to provide the heat needed at points 1 and 2 above.
 
Design option for the BioRoburplus off-gas burner

The complementary innovations already developed in BioROBUR (advanced modulating air-steam feed control system for coke growth control; catalytic trap hosting WGS functionality and allowing decomposition of incomplete reforming products; etc.) will allow to fully achieve the project objectives within the stringent budget and time constraints set by the call. Prof. Debora Fino, the coordinator of the former BioROBUR project, will manage, in an industrially-oriented perspective, the work of 11 partners with complementary expertise: 3 universities (POLITO, KIT, SUPSI), 3 research centres (IRCE, CPERI, DBI), 3 SMEs (ENGICER, HST, MET) and 2 large companies (ACEA, JM) from 7 different European Countries. A final test campaign is foreseen at TRL 6 to prove targets achievement, catching the unique opportunity offered by ACEA to exploit three different biogas types and heat integration with an anaerobic digester generating the biogas itself.

 


Innovative large-scale energy STOragE technologies AND Power-to-Gas concepts after Optimisation
(STOREandGO)


The “STORE&GO” project will demonstrate three “innovative Power to Gas storage concepts” at locations in Germany, Switzerland and Italy in order to overcome technical, economic, social and legal barriers. The demonstration will pave the way for an integration of PtG storage into flexible energy supply and distribution systems with a high share of renewable energy. Using methanation processes as bridging technologies, it will demonstrate and investigate in which way these innovative PtG concepts will be able to solve the main problems of renewable energies: fluctuating production of renewable energies; consideration of renewables as suboptimal power grid infrastructure; expensive; missing storage solutions for renewable power at the local, national and European level. At the same time PtG concepts will contribute in maintaining natural gas or SNG with an existing huge European infrastructure and an already advantageous and continuously improving environmental footprint as an important primary/secondary energy carrier, which is nowadays in doubt due to geo-political reasons/conflicts. So, STORE&GO will show that new PtG concepts can bridge the gaps associated with renewable energies and security of energy supply. STORE&GO will rise the acceptance in the public for renewable energy technologies in the demonstration of bridging technologies at three “living” best practice locations in Europe.


Methane Engines for Passenger Vehicles
(MetCar)
Contemporary Natural Gas (NG) engines for passenger car applications are not consequently optimized for NG operation. But, due to its high knock resistance, NG offers a high efficiency potential versus gasoline already. EE-C-Methane consists mainly of very neat methane. Therefore, it offers an even higher knock resistance (higher Methane Number) than NG. The higher knock resistance can be transformed into higher efficiency by further increasing the compression ratio (CR) and the boost level of the engine.
In order to exploit the potential and to achieve the high efficiencies, while maintaining drivability and component durability, many aspects need to be considered during the development of a dedicated EE-C-Methane engine, which are content of the described project MethCar. Beside the significant rise of the peak combustion pressure capability of the base engine, volumetric efficiency is going to be increased by means of a new methane direct injection system and a turbo charger with variable turbine geometry, as well as a fully variable valvetrain. Furthermore, the impact of the methane composition (EE-C-Methane) is an important factor for the market introduction potential of methane as automotive fuel. Therefore, in MethCar, the impact of the expected main components of EE-Methane (H2, CH4) and trace elements (as sulfur and compressor oil) on component wear and catalyst efficiency is investigated.
The 3rd innovative element of the study is the investigation how to avoid particle emissions robustly, with the focus on small particles.
 

Within this research focus in the past the following research projects were associated:


Development of a grill and funnel igniter on base of steel wool
(Anzuendmaus)


Aim of this project is to develop a better barbecue and fireplace igniter compared with other products that are available. Essential criteria for this are emissions of the combustion process, the duration of burning, the temporal develpment of the heat release rate and the storage stability of the igniter. Use of steel wool as an essential component of the igniter serves for different tasks:
 
Steel wool serves as a carrier for the used fuel: Due to this functionality different fuels can be applied that, otherwise, would not be applicable due to a lack of form stability (e.g. different types of waxes) and could only be used as paste or liquid.
 
Steel wool is a fuel by itself: Using a first simplified assumption, one can act on the assumption that within the combustion process steel wool fully oxidises to iron(III)-oxide (Fe2O3). The standard heat of formation of Fe2O3 is Δhf0 = -824,2 kJ/mol. Complete oxidation leads to a heat release of 7.379 J/g. Considering the higher density of steel compared to fuels based on hydro carbons the upper heating value is approx. 58.000 MJ/m3 compared to 41.500 MJ/m3 for paraffins and to 25.000 MJ/m3 for wood-fiber/wax mixtures. Depending on the porosity of the carrier steel wool structure, that can be adjusted by a pressing operation or the wire diameter, the contribution of heat that is released can be also adjusted between the combustion of steel wool and tat of the additional fuel contained inside the structure.

Integrated High-Temperature Electrolysis and Methanation for Effective Power to Gas Conversion
(HELMETH)


The objective of the HELMETH project is the proof of concept of a highly efficient Power-to-Gas (P2G) technology with methane as a chemical storage and by thermally integrating high temperature electrolysis (SOEC technology) with methanation. This thermal integration balancing the exothermal and endothermal processes is an innovation with a high potential for a most energy-efficient storage solution for renewable electricity, without any practical capacity and duration limitation, since it provides SNG (Substitute Natural Gas) as a product, which is fully compatible with the existing pipeline network and storage infrastructure. The realization of the P2G technology as proposed within HELMETH needs several development steps and HELMETH focuses on two main technical and socio-economic objectives, which have to be met in order to show the feasibility of the technology:

  • Elaboration of the conditions / scenarios for an economic feasibility of the P2G process towards methane as chemical storage, without significantly deteriorating the CO2-balance of the renewable electricity.
  • Demonstration of the technical feasibility of a conversion efficiency > 85 % from renewable electricity to methane, which is superior to the efficiency for the generation of hydrogen via conventional water electrolysis.


Within HELMETH the main focus lies in the development of a complete pressurized P2G module consisting of a pressurized steam electrolyser module, which is thermally integrated with an optimized carbon dioxide methanation module. The HELMETH project will prove and demonstrate that:

  • the conversion of renewable electricity into a storable hydrocarbon by high-temperature electrolysis is a feasible option,
  • high temperature electrolysis and methanation can be coupled and thermally integrated towards highest conversion efficiencies by utilizing the process heat of the exothermal methanation reaction in the high temperature electrolysis process.


The main tasks of KIT within HELMETH are:

  • Technical/scientific and administrative co-ordination
  • Process modelling
  • Methanation module development
  • Heat exchangers testing
  • Dissemination and training activities

 


Numerical simulation of wet biomass carbonization in tubular reactors
(KARBONISIERUNG)

Biomass Steam Processing (BSP) is a steam assisted slow pyrolysis aims to densify the energy content of lignocellulosic feedstocks through a thermochemical conversion process. Evolution of BSP is the outcome of several years of experimental investigation on different processes and scales. Complexity of the multi-scale nature of biomass feedstock and uncertainty about chemical reactions as well as multiphase flow of educts and products in the reactor make these processes very difficult to be predicted and understood precisely. Development of this process can have a positive influence on the localizing of energy densification plants for biomass residues as an economical alternative energy source. BSP can be a profitable waste-to-energy strategy and ecological solution for biological waste disposal issues.

The proposed research project will gradually develop a modular program for the numerical simulation of solid transport, heat transfer and chemical reactions of granular solid biomass in continuous tubular reactor with relative motion between solid and reactor wall or reactor built-in installations. Therefore, from simple models, e.g. cascade models, the study can be started in order to investigate and quantify the influences of the different partial models for the complex chemical and physical processes. Based on these investigations, the discrete element methods (DEM), which are adapted suitably for use with fluid dynamics governing equations, can be used in computational fluid dynamics (CFD). With this program system, different plan processes such as auger reactors, which are used in the carbonization of lignocellulosic biomass, will be numerically simulated. However, the core of the program is also intended to be used for other reactor forms, e.g. Rotary Kilns or tube reactors with rotating blade-like internals.


Cost-effective CO2 conversion into chemicals via combination of Capture and Electrochemical and Biochemical Conversion
(CELBICON)
The conversion of CO2 into valuable chemicals or fuels by the use of renewable hydrogen will become a strategic goal in the next decades. It will entail not only the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, but also the generation of renew­able compounds to be used instead of fossil ones. In this context, the EU-funnded project CELBICON (Cost-effective CO2 conversion into chemicals via combination of Capture, ELectrochemical and BIochemical CONversion technologies) aims at the development of new CO2-to chemicals technologies capable of operating at small scale with high efficiency as especially most of the renewable energy sources are decentralized.


 

The CELBICON- Process, as shown in the figure above, includes the Capture of atmospheric CO2, its conversion into synthesis gas in an Electro-catalytic reactor along with electricity and the subsequent Bio-technological conversion followed by a downstream processing into the final product (for example isoprene or bioplastics)

The part of KIT in the CELBICON project is the realization an energy efficient supply of the feedstock of the electro-catalytic reactor, which consists of a water/CO2 solution at elevated temperature and pressure. As the energy required for the dissolution of CO2 in water is dominated by the work needed to compress the gaseous CO2, a new method of compressing and dissolving simultaneously will be investigated by KIT on the grounds of recent developments.