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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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List of current research projects
Advanced direct biogas fuel processor for robust and cost-effective decentralised hydrogen production
Modular extension of an overall model for improved prediction of combustion process in liquid fuel/water emulsions
Energy Efficient Coil Coating Process
Emissions Soot Model
Machine learning for Advanced Gas turbine Injection SysTems to Enhance combustoR performance
Methane Engines for Passenger Vehicles
Renewable Power Generation by Solar Particle Receiver Driven Sulphur Storage Cycle
SOot Processes and Radiation in Aeronautical inNOvative combustors
Innovative large-scale energy STOragE technologies AND Power-to-Gas concepts after Optimisation
TURBOmachinery REtrofits enabling FLEXible back-up capacity for the transition of the European energy system





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.

 





Modular extension of an overall model for improved prediction of combustion process in liquid fuel/water emulsions
(CEC3H)

The research carried out withing the subproject 3H contributes to the fulfillment of the projects' goal "operation flexibility and fuel flexibility". Operation stability is mainly depending on the the stability limit of combustion, which is still difficult to predict. Fuel flexibility requires the thorough design of a combustor which is able to operate on gaseous and liquid fuels. The goals of the subproject 3H, which continues the successful work of the subproject 1F stem from these requirements and challenges.
The liquid fuel and liquid fuel/water emulsion combustion model developed within in the framework of subproject 1F is able to predict the heat release during the combustion of liquid fuels with a given droplet diameter and velocity distribution. Hence, different important aspects which are important for the application of the model have not been accounted for. The first aspect concerns the specification of the droplet properties which is currently derived from experimental data. The second aspect is the neglect of heat losses which have a major impact on the calculation of flame stability and emissions. Furthermore, the model has only been validated for kerosene until now but not for diesel or diesel water emulsions.
The subproject 3H addresses these questions and aims to the development of a tool which can be used in the design process of a gas turbine combustion chamber. To this end, the atomization of the liquid fuel shall be described by an empirical model. Moreover, the influence of heat losses on the heat release rate shall be captured. Further aspects, e.g. the droplet wall interaction and the role of the fuel-to-water ratio distribution which have a significant impact on the gas turbine combustion process are investigated.





Energy Efficient Coil Coating Process
(ECCO)
Energy Efficient Coil COating Process

Coil coating is a continuous process for providing coating to a metal strip. In 2017, a total area of 1.37 billion m² of aluminium and steel was coated with 219 kt of paint in Europe, representing one third of the worldwide production. The coil coated products are mainly used in the construction market as building envelope. Consumers encounter coil coated products in everyday life for example as casing in a variety of size from fridges, washing machines to toasters and wireless speakers. In the coil coating process, a paint, mainly consisting of pigments, chemical crosslinkers and solvents, is applied to a metal strip. In a following step the paint is dried while the solvents evaporate. Afterwards, the paint is cured up to a certain temperature where the crosslinkers increase the adhesion between pigments and metal strip. In the conventional process the required heat is provided through convective heat transfer using hot air. In order to prevent the creation of an explosive atmosphere in the process, operation at a solvent concentration below the lower explosion limit by using an excess amount of air is inevitable. Prevention of VOC emission entails either recovery or thermal decomposition of the solvents, which can be stated as being technically complex and expensive due to the high dilution of the solvents.

In the ECCO project the proof of concept of a novel curing oven will be performed in a pilot scale coil coating line. In ECCO, the curing oven is operated at elevated solvent concentration which allows the direct utilization of solvents as a fuel for heat generation. Therefore, the oven system is separated in two sections: The radiant burner section, where intense radiation in the IR-spectrum is emitted at high temperatures resulting from combustion inside of a ceramic porous structure, and the curing oven section which is operated over the upper explosion limit or, in other words, below a critical oxygen concentration. The prevention of a thermal decomposition of the solvent loaded atmosphere at high temperatures is ensured through separation of the two oven sections by an IR-transmissive material. Starting from previous activities at TRL 4, an interdisciplinary approach is foreseen, based on advanced-materials, combustion technology and prediction tools for system design/optimization, with active participation of key industrial stakeholders, to bring this technology to TRL 6 and realize a prototype curing oven at industrially relevant size and environment. ECCO proposes an oven concept which leads to a drastically reduced size and increased energy efficiency as we as well a higher production flexibility due to a fuel-flexible, modular and potentially energetically self-sustainable process. In comparison to existing conventional convective curing systems, ECCO presents a less energy demanding, environment-friendly and economical technical curing oven concept.





Emissions Soot Model
(ESTiMatE)

Within the EU-H2020 project "Emissions Soot Model" (ESTiMatE), a modelling strategy will be developed to predict carbon particle (soot) emissions from the operation of aircraft engines. 

This requires the improvement or development of sophisticated models for the relevant sub-processes and validation using reference experiments to ensure a reliable prediction of soot emissions. The aim of the work of the Institute of Combustion Technology within the project is to generate data sets under representative combustion conditions which can be used to validate the models developed.

In this respect, laminar counterflowmodel flames of a kerosene surrogate and its individual components (e.g. dodecane and iso-octane) are investigated fundamentally to explain the influence of fuel composition and pressure (up to 8 bar) on the flame structure and in particular on the formation of soot precursors [benzene (A1), naphthalene (A2), pyrene (A4), etc.] and soot particles. The data obtained are first compared with already developed chemistry models and then used to validate the models developed in ESTiMatE. The figure shows experimental and numerically calculated concentrations of gaseous species in a non-premixed counterflow flame of iso-octane.





Machine learning for Advanced Gas turbine Injection SysTems to Enhance combustoR performance
(MAGISTER)


The project is funded in the framework of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions as Innovative Training Network (ITN).
 
Air transportation is expected to grow persistently over the next decades. Clean combustion technology for aircraft engines is a key enabler to reduce the impact of this growth on ecosystems and humans’ health. The vision for European aviation is shaped by the Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe in the Flight Path 2050 goals, which define stringent regulations on pollutant emissions.  
 
To meet these goals, the major engine manufacturers develop lean premixed combustors operated at very high pressure. This development introduces a large risk for reduced reliability and lifetime of engines: pressure oscillations in the combustor called thermoacoustics.  
 
Aviation industry encounters currently the fourth industrial revolution: cyber-physical systems analyze and monitor technical systems and take automated decisions. This industrial revolution is known as “Industry 4.0” in Germany and “Industrial Internet” in the USA. An essential enabler of the fourth industrial revolution is Machine Learning.  
 
The ITN MAGISTER will utilize Machine Learning to predict and understand thermoacoustics in aircraft engine combustors, and to lead combustion research to a revolutionary new approach in this area.




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.




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)





SOot Processes and Radiation in Aeronautical inNOvative combustors
(SOPRANO)
The SOPRANO project’s main scientific objective is to make a breakthrough in the overall investigation efforts in the field of soot particles chemistry, particles size distribution (PSD), and their radiative effect on combustors typical of aero-engines. SOPRANO aims at a qualitative shift in the knowledge and experimental and numerical approaches related to the characterization and prediction of soot emission and interaction with radiative Low NOx combustor environment.
 
 
The main industrial objective of SOPRANO is to carry out an in-depth characterization of soot particles emitted by a modern combustor at engine relevant operating conditions and at increased pressures to pave the way for the future design of high-performance combustors: a more accurate evaluation of the radiation effect and, therefore, a more reliable liner temperature prediction, will drive a review of the design criteria in terms of combustor air distribution and will improve durability of some key modules, e.g. the combustor’s liners.




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.





TURBOmachinery REtrofits enabling FLEXible back-up capacity for the transition of the European energy system
(TURBO-REFLEX)
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The energy sector accounts for two thirds of the global CO2 emissions and is therefore crucial to ensure future green growth and to achieve the global emission reduction targets. Substantial reduction of CO2 emissions can only be achieved by large scale deployment of renewable energy sources, including in particular the most abundant energy sources, wind and sun. Their intermittent nature however poses significant challenges for the energy system as peak demand from the system and peak production form those intermittent sources do not overlap. As there are no large scale storage solutions available yet, other backup capacities are needed. The installed fossil capacity is large enough to provide this back-up power. However, the plants were designed for baseload operation, which results in increased wear and costs through cyclic operation and unnecessarily high emissions in the start-up phase. Providing technology upgrades to retrofit the installed power plants to enable flexible operation without penalties on life, cost and emissions is an opportunity to quickly provide the necessary backup capacity to keep the energy system stable and resilient and at the same time enabling higher renewable shares.

The mission of TURBO-REFLEX is the development and optimisation of technologies, applicable to a selected set of turbomachinery engine components, which can be used to retrofit existing power plants as well as new machines in order to enable more flexible operation, providing the flexible back-up capacity needed for introducing a larger share of renewables in the energy system. TURBO-REFLEX will assess the impact of such technologies at plant level and prepare the transfer of component technology gains into reduction of both (unplanned and planned) outages and maintenance and operation costs.

The Lean Blow Off (LBO) limit is a significant hurdle to further reduce the part load of gas turbines as the operating zone of the combustor is restricted by the LBO limit. Jet stabilized premixed flames will be forecasted with blow off stability down to 1000°C–1200°C combustion temperature with or without using pilot flames. 1000°C–1200°C combustion temperature would equal emission compliant part load operation down to 20%-25%. Better blow-off stability in the combustor is a prerequisite to running higher load gradients. Therefore, it is expected that jet stabilized premixed flames with better LBO limits will allow also gradients faster than 40MW/min.

EBIvbt at KIT will model the blow-off of jet flames with advanced computational models. These models include basic geometrical parameters like duct diameter and dump ratio, but also the effect of neighboring pilot flames. A 3D simulation model will be developed and experimentally validated at conditions close to the application. The turbulence-chemistry interaction will be captured by two different combustion models. Within both models a transport equation of a reaction progress variable will be solved. The difference between the combustion models is in the source term modelling. In the first model the source term depends on mixture fraction and the progress variable itself. In the second model, which is based on the “turbulent flame speed closure” approach, the source term depends on the laminar flame velocity. So, one can calculate the influence of the stretch and heat loss on the laminar flame speed by simplified 1D modelling. The comparison of the two models to experimental data will show which model is more suitable for the applied boundary conditions.

 


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