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Advertising division: IEK-3 - Techno-economic Systems Analysis
Reference number: 2019M-089, Mechanical Engineering, Process / Energy Engineering

Master thesis: Development of Membrane Reactor Concepts for Reverse Water Gas Shift: CFD Modeling and Integration into Power-to-Fuel Processes

Start of work: Flexible / by agreement

In order to counter the effects of anthropogenic climate change, a higher share of renewable energy sources (RESs) is introduced into Germany’s energy supply grid. Due to the fluctuating nature of RESs, it is necessary to install more wind and photovoltaics (PVs) generation in terms of nominal power than would otherwise be required in order to ensure that the power demand can always be met, however, this will lead to times when power supply is greater than demand. “Power-to-Fuel” (PtF) concept is a promising approach to convert surplus power to chemical energy carriers. In this concept, hydrogen is produced by water electrolysis and is then used for transport fuel synthesis by reacting with CO2 from industrial sources or air. By this way, the PtF plays a role of linking energy and transport sectors, namely sector coupling (SC). Therefore, energy storage and CO2 emissions reduction can be achieved simultaneously. The "Institute of Energy and Climate Research: Electrochemical Process Engineering (IEK-3)" is working on the process engineering and reactor development for PtF processes based on Aspen Plus and ANSYS Fluent simulation.

Area of responsibility
The alternative fuels from and CO2 and H2 include F-T synthetic fuels, alcohols, ethers and other oxygenates (OME3-5, DMC). These fuels can be produced via direct or indirect pathways. The direct pathways convert CO2 and H2 to end products directly, while in the indirect pathways CO2 and H2 are firstly converted into syngas by reverse water gas shift (RWGS), syngas is then used for fuel syntheses.

In comparison to the RWGS reaction, the dry reforming of methane (CO2 + CH4 -> 2CO + 2H2) reaction replaces H2 with CH4. Biogas is a potential feedstock for dry reforming due to its high CO2 and CH4 content. As such, dry reforming of biogas can play as a competing route against RWGS route for syngas production and fuel synthesis.

For both pathways, CO2 conversion is limited from thermodynamics and kinetics perspectives. Operating temperature of both reactions are generally higher than 1000 K to achieve higher conversion and to supress side reactions, so external heat is needed for them.

Membrane reactors are potentially suitable for producing energy carriers and intermediates under mild conditions. In addition to their high efficiency (conversion and selectivity) and flexibility, membrane reactors have the advantage that they have a modular design and theoretically can be used anywhere where excess heat is available. The aim of this work is to develop and analyse membrane reactor concepts for PtF processes. The work packages include the tasks below:

  • Literature review on different membrane concepts and their suitability for PtF;
  • Fluid dynamics modelling of selected membrane rectors with different heat supply schemes;
  • Assessment and optimisation of reactor performance by parameter analysis;
  • Thermo-mechanical analysis of membrane modular;
  • Integration of RWGS into PtF processes;
  • Comparison with biogas dry reforming.


  • You are completing a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, Process/Energy Engineering, or meet the equivalent requirements;
  • Independent and scientific working method;
  • Willingness to work in the interdisciplinary fields of energy and process engineering;
  • Good coursework;
  • Good English proficiency in spoken and written;

Applicants with CFD modelling background such as ANSYS Fluent are strongly encouraged to apply.

Our offer

  • A versatile, highly motivated working group of international character within one of the largest research institutions in Europe.
  • Excellent scientific and technical infrastructures.
  • Intensive support of the work on site.

Contact person:

Hong Huang (M. Eng.)
Institute of Energy and Climate Research
Electrochemical Process Engineering (IEK-3) -
Department of Fuel Processing and Systems
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
52425 Jülich

Tel. 02461 61-85193