Energy conversion, materials research

The power stations and plants of the future must convert various and different primary energy carriers as efficiently, as environmentally friendly and as reliably as possible into useful energy. This requires innovative boosts for components such as turbo machines and materials that are capable of resisting higher temperatures. An interdisciplinary team of engineers, physicists, chemists and researchers from other fields of science provides the leading expertise in materials research. The wide range of methods is the basis for ongoing materials and microstructure optimization, which are successfully applied in fuel cells, turbines, batteries and gas separation membranes.

Forschungszentrum Jülich

The materials synthesis and processing research of the section IEK-1 centers around the development of innovative metallic and ceramic materials and layer systems for resolving key questions of advanced energy conversion and storage systems. This includes synthesis and characterization of new materials, such as nano-, micro, and macro-scale powders as well as coating techniques in the nanometer and micrometer range. Research is focused onhigh temperature resistant coatings as thermal barrier coatings,  inorganic membranes for separation of CO2 from power stations, solid oxide fuel cells and solid state batteries. Furthermore, the section focusses on innovative component production processes for structural components and coatings using methods that save raw materials and are near-net shape.
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In the section IEK-2 Microstructure and Properties of Materials high-performance materials for efficient energy conversion and storage are being analysed. Keywords for the characterization are thermochemistry, materials chemistry, and materials mechanics and lifetime modeling. Materials under extreme loads, i.e. thermal and thermo-mechanical loads are being investigated as well as high temperature corrosion, i.e. by corrosive gases, and mechanisms for corrosion protection are being developed. A range of methods and a state-of-the-art-scientific infrastructure (analytical electron microscopy, materialography, electron-probe microanalysis, and X-ray powder diffraction) permit micro and nanodiagostics on the highest level.
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RWTH Aachen University

The Institute of Heat and Mass Transfer (WSA) at RWTH Aachen University conducts theoretical, numerical and experimental studies in various research fields. Among those are the combustion of coal and natural gas in air and oxyfuel atmospheres as well as power plant burner design, direct desulphurization, torrefaction of biomass and high temperature heat exchangers. A main research field is the control of internal combustion engines by means of fuel injection, which includes the investigation of atomization characteristics for new synthetic biofuels and the investigation of cluster nozzle characteristics (see figure). Further research includes the hydrodynamics and heat transfer of free falling liquid films and impinging jets, the modeling and experimental determination of contact heat transfer coefficients, the optimization of cooling tower inventory, the management of air conditioning for buildings, and the optical measurement of surface temperatures with high temporal resolution.
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Bochum University

Minimizing energy consumption and pollutant emissions is a key challenge for the competiveness of many industrial processes. The Chair of Energy Plant Technology (LEAT) examines such processes on an experimental and modeling basis. One major focus is on combustion processes in power plants like pulverized fuel firing, circulating fluidized bed combustion as we as grate firing systems. Especially the combustion characteristics of biomasses are becoming more and more important. The torrefaction of biomass to improve the biomass combustion properties is a research topic as well. In cooperation with the Forschungszentrum Jülich the integration of membranes into power plants for CO2 separation is under examination. In addition, processes in energy intensive industries like cement production (rotary kilns, calciners) and steel processing (spray roasting of iron chloride) are topics of fundamental and applied research.
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Thermodynamics is one of the essential fundamental subjects of energy technologies and process engineering. The institute for thermodynamics tries to come up to this demanding claim both in research and in education, whereby its scientific work is traditionally focussed on issues relevant for energy technologies. Thermodynamic properties of natural gases, of combustion gases, of CO2-rich mixtures and of working fluids are investigated both experimentally and theoretically. Achievements with regard to the simulation of innovative energy processes are closely linked to this particularly deep know how on thermodynamic-property models. The biogas laboratory of the institute contributes to an optimized utilization of renewable resources. Heat transfer processes are investigated in boiling highly viscous mixtures and in thermally stressed pumps. As an integral part of the institute the research group led by assistant professor Prof. Dr.-Ing. Tobias Fieback works mostly experimentally on topics relevant for process engineering, for example on sorption measurements and sensor developments.
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