The Fuel Science Center
Starting 2019, the "Tailor-Made Fuels from Biomass – TMFB" Cluster of Excellence has transitioned into the "The Fuel Science Center" Cluster of Excellence.
Background and Objectives
Increasing energy demands and, concomitantly, increased carbon dioxide emission, alongside a limited availability of fossil energy resources, represent one of the greatest societal challenges today. Thus, research in the area of energy utilization from renewable resources is becoming ever more important, with the goal of developing alternatives to the usage of fossil energy resources. One such alternative is offered by the efficient use of biomass, without competing with food production.
On January 1, 2019, the new Cluster of Excellence “The Fuel Science Center” was launched.
The Cluster of Excellence “Tailor-Made Fuels from Biomass”, TMFB for short, takes an interdisciplinary approach to research on new synthetic fuels obtained from biomass.
Optimized Biobased Fuels Through the Interdisciplinary Collaboration of Several Disciplines
Since the beginning of the first funding period in 2007 the Cluster has been working on the development of an overarching process for the production of optimized biofuels.
The involved researchers work in very close collaboration: on the one hand, novel synthetic conversion paths are investigated. These are to facilitate the energy- and resource-optimized conversion of biomass into fuel components via various of (bio)catalytic steps. On the other hand, the combustion processes for these novel fuels are systematically examined, in order to define optimized fuel characteristics and thus to be able to make the combustion process more clean and efficient.
The constant exchange between these two key research areas in the so-called “fuel design process” makes it possible to derive novel, optimized fuels that are cost-effective in production and that facilitate an efficiency-optimized combustion.
Most importantly, for the production of the fuels, the entire plant material, called lignocellulose, is used – thus, these fuels will not compete with the food chain.
Partners in the Fuel Design Center
The Excellence Cluster involves more than 20 RWTH departments working in the fields of chemistry, bio-technology, process engineering, and mechanical engineering. It is supported by partner institutions, such as the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology in Aachen and the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim.
The contributing researchers come together in the “Fuel Design Center,” which is located at RWTH Aachen University, to follow this interdisciplinary approach in order to develop an optimized process for the production of biofuels.Copyright: FSC RWTH
Continued Funding Until 2025
On September 27th, 2018, the funding proposal for the new Cluster of Excellence “The Fuel Science Center – Adaptive Conversion Systems for Renewable Energy and Carbon Sources” has been approved by an international expert panel appointed by the Joint Science Conference of the Federal and State Governments (GWK).
The spokespersons for the newly approved Cluster of Excellence, “The Fuel Science Center,” Professor Stefan Pischinger, Chair for Combustion Engines, and Professor Walter Leitner, Chair of Technical Chemistry and Petrochemistry and Director for Molecular Catalysis at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, very much look forward to continuing the successful activities of the “Tailor-Made Fuels From Biomass” Cluster of Excellence in the Fuel Science Center (FSC).
The FSC Cluster of Excellence, which will start its activities January 2019, explores innovative and promising ways of converting renewable energy into liquid energy carriers with high energy density, so called “bio-hybrid fuels,” by using biomass-based resources and carbon dioxide, seeking to harness them for the benefit of the mobility sector.
In the first five-year funding period, the Cluster was able to achieve promising successes: New molecule structures developed in the “fuel design process” via adapted catalytic paths from biomass make it possible to achieve an almost soot-free combustion. Furthermore, fuels have been developed that facilitate a controlled self-ignition with minimized fuel emission in the gasoline engine and that achieve an efficiency improvement of up to 10 percent.
In the second funding phase for the TMFB Cluster of Excellence, the researchers continued their work and complemented it with new approaches. They introduced model-based methods, for example, to be able to predict the characteristics and production paths of novel fuel components.
In parallel, experiments have been developed to determine the combustion characteristics of tailor-made fuels (“rapid fuel screening”). In this way, the precision of the simulation models can be improved and the potential of new candidates for fuels can be assessed as quickly as possible. Furthermore, novel combustion processes and engines that are optimized for the use of the new fuels have been developed – in this way, the potential of the fuels can be fully exploited.
Thus, after the successful first funding phase, the Excellence Cluster seeks to continue to provide contributions to sustainable future mobility within the next years.