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

The increasing availability of non-fossil energy technologies opens unprecedented possibilities to re-design the interface of energy and material value chains towards a sustainable future.

The fundamental research in the Cluster of Excellence “The Fuel Science Center – Adaptive Conversion Systems for Renewable Energy and Carbon Sources” (FSC) aims to integrate renewable electricity with the joint utilization of bio-based carbon feedstocks and CO2 to provide high-density liquid energy carriers (bio-hybrid fuels), which enable innovative engine concepts for highly efficient and clean combustion.

FSC will generate fundamental knowledge as well as novel scientific methodologies to replace today’s fossil fuel-based static scenario by adaptive production and propulsion systems that are based on renewable energy and carbon resources under dynamic system boundaries.



Adaptive Conversion Systems for Renewable Energy and Carbon Sources

In the first five-year funding period, the Cluster was considerably successful in many different areas. The new molecule structures developed in the fuel design process via adapted catalytic paths from biomass made it possible to achieve an almost soot-free combustion. Furthermore, fuels were developed that facilitate a controlled self-ignition with minimized fuel emission in the gasoline engine and achieve an efficiency improvement of up to ten percent.

In the second funding phase of the TMFB, the researchers continued their work, complementing 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. Experiments were also developed to determine the combustion characteristics of tailor-made fuels, or “rapid fuel screening”. In this way, the precision of the simulation models could be improved and the potential of new candidates for fuels could be assessed as quickly as possible. Furthermore, novel combustion processes and engines that are optimized for the use of the new fuels were developed, consequently, the potential of the fuels could be fully exploited.

On September 27, 2018, the funding proposal for the new Cluster of Excellence was approved by an international expert panel appointed by the Joint Science Conference of the Federal and State Governments, GWK for short, guaranteeing further funding until 2025. In this third funding period, the FSC 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 its convergent approach to bio-hybrid fuels, the FSC goes far beyond current research on renewable fuels by defining the scientific basis for the development of bio-hybrid fuels through integrated design of production and propulsion systems.

The targeted technologies are adaptive to anticipate the increasing diversification of energy supply and carbon feedstock availability for a mobility sector in transformation. The (electro-)catalytic production of fuels as well as chemicals is envisaged as an important enabler for flexible and economic value chains. Molecularly controlled combustion systems are targeted to maximize efficiency and minimize emissions during the recovery of the chemically stored renewable energy. Methodological approaches will be developed to assess and ultimately predict the environmental impact, economic viability, and societal relevance of the technical developments.

Partners in the Fuel Science Center

The FSC involves more than 29 RWTH departments working in the fields of chemistry, bio-technology, process engineering, and mechanical engineering. It is supported by partner institutions, such as the Max-Planck-Institutes für Kohlenforschung and Chemical Energy Conversion as well as Forschungszentrum Jülich.

The contributing researchers in the “Fuel Design Center” located at RWTH Aachen University, follow an interdisciplinary approach in order to develop an optimized process for the production of biofuels.