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Priority Programme A Contribution to the Realisation of the Energy Transition: Optimisation of Thermochemical Energy Conversion Processes for the Flexible Utilisation of Hydrogen-based Renewable Fuels Using Additive Manufacturing (SPP 2419);

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
In March 2022, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme A Contribution to the Realisation of the Energy Transition: Optimisation of Thermochemical Energy Conversion Processes for the Flexible Utilisation of Hydrogen-based Renewable Fuels Using Additive Manufacturing (SPP 2419). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the first three-year funding period.

The use of carbon-free chemical energy carriers such as hydrogen and ammonia in high-temperature thermochemical processes is essential for the transformation of the energy system towards a carbon-neutral energy conversion. These fuels offer significant advantages. They avoid greenhouse gas emissions, they can be produced with good efficiency utilising renewable electricity, and they are flexible in their use. Potentials of thermochemical energy conversion also arise when hydrogen is mixed with natural gas, as hydrogen can be successively added to the existing natural gas infrastructure, enabling a low-risk transition to a carbon-free energy economy. Here, the term hydrogen-containing fuels refers to mixtures of hydrogen, ammonia, and hydrocarbons with high hydrogen or ammonia content.

Compared to conventional fuels, hydrogen and ammonia have fundamentally different combustion properties, which are reflected, for example, in different burning rates, flammability limits, ignition energies, and pollutant formation behaviour. The advancement of hydrogen-containing fuel technology is important in all sectors including, for instance, power generation in gas turbines and the supply of process heat with industrial burners. It requires the joint increase of thermal efficiencies and reduction of pollutant emissions, while considering stability, fuel flexibility, and safety. These adaptations will be achieved here by a combination of simulation-based design with innovative manufacturing processes, e.g., additive manufacturing, and the associated degrees of freedom in materials and shaping. For this integrated approach, many of the relevant fundamental aspects are not yet sufficiently understood.

Accordingly, this Priority Programme takes a new interdisciplinary approach that links the competences of combustion science and additive manufacturing (AM). The hypothesis of the SPP is that only a comprehensive understanding of combustion fundamentals as well as the integration of modern 3D manufacturing processes and simulation-based design as well as the use and adoption of AM-suited materials can enable the simultaneous improvement of flexibility, efficiency, and emissions in thermochemical energy conversion processes.

For structuring the relevant research fields, it is important to establish the necessary interrelationships among combustion science and AM, but also to address fundamental questions of the individual disciplines. For thermochemical energy conversion, the relevant processes occur on length and time scales that span several orders of magnitude that require consideration of laboratory and system scales. For AM, burner and combustion chamber design (e.g., topology optimisation), sensor integration, and materials are important.

AM can make an important contribution in all areas of combustion to be investigated. On the laboratory scale, specially developed burners and combustion chambers can be manufactured for experimental investigation, e.g., of flame dynamics, which enables more in-depth knowledge through sensor integration or built-in gas sampling channels. In addition, AM can be used to transfer knowledge from the laboratory scale to the system scale to facilitate the development of fuel-flexible and scalable industrial burners and gas turbines. To address these challenges, fundamental issues must be solved. Examples include digital materials with locally manipulable properties (e.g., shape memory effects), thin-walled structures (e.g., channel geometries with locally changeable cross-sections), tailored surface roughness, multi-physical topology optimisation, component-integrated and/or printed sensor technology, and the development of high-temperature-resistant materials for AM.

The overarching aims of the project are to develop domain-specific knowledge and methods, to create an interdisciplinary research field between combustion science and manufacturing, and to demonstrate the approach both computationally and experimentally. The specific goals of the Priority Programme include the advancement of methods, since the design of highly complex AM-manufactured burner and combustion chamber concepts and appropriately adapted operating strategies requires an integrated process using predictive simulation, AM, and experimental analysis.
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