The Fuel Science Center


Pötting, Hendrik © Copyright: Lehrstuhl fuer Technische Thermodynamik der RWTH Aachen


Hendrik Pötting

Energy Systems Engineering


+49 241 80 95458



Background: The Cluster of Excellence „The Fuel Science Center“

The Cluster of Excellence „The Fuel Science Center“, FSC for short, explores the integrated conversion of biomass-based feedstock and carbon dioxide combined with renewable electricity to produce new synthetic fuels and chemicals. In order to exploit the full potential of the research project, the FSC aims at optimizing the entire value chain from production to propulsion: The goal of the FSC is not only to identify an optimal fuel, which enables a highly efficient and clean combustion, but also the optimal production and use. The entire value chain for a new fuel ultimately has to fulfill not only economic, but also ecological and social requirements. The research focuses on a holistic optimization with strong interaction of research projects in the fields of natural sciences, engineering and social sciences. In doing so, the FSC can build on the successes of the previous excellence cluster "Tailor-Made Fuels from Biomass".

The Institute of Technical Thermodynamics is participating in FSC in three research projects within the area of energy systems engineering:

  • Integrated Design Method for Sustainable Fuel-based Mobility
  • Automated integrated design method for molecules and processes
  • Integrating molecular and process design into life-cycle assessment
  Logo Fuel Science Center Copyright: © FSC

Further information about the work and organization of the FSC can be found on the website of the Cluster of Excellence.


Integrated Design Method for Sustainable Fuel-based Mobility

Technology Choice Model for Consequential Life Cycle Assessment Copyright: © LTT

The Institute of Technical Thermodynamics participates in developing an Integrated Design Method for sustainable fuel-based mobility. For this purpose, a value chain model for the electricity and mobility sector is linked to a predictive evaluation approach leading to a holistic model-based framework for value chain design of bio-hybrid fuels. This framework enables evaluation already at early development stages instead of common retrospective approaches.

The predictive evaluation is enabled by Consequential Life Cycle Assessment, a method for assessing the environmental consequences of decisions taking into account both technical and market-mediated effects. Currently, Consequential Life Cycle Assessment assumes economically rational behavior by society, and thus neglects public acceptance as a condition to enable technology changes. Therefore, the expansion of Consequential Life Cycle Assessment towards public acceptance is essential to account for interactions between technological decisions, environmental impacts and acceptance by society as well as stakeholders. For this purpose, integrated approaches of Consequential Life Cycle Assessment and acceptance models are investigated in collaboration with the Chair of Communication Science to simultaneously assess all sustainability dimensions: economy, society, and environment.

The Integrated Design Method aims at identifying trade-offs between multiple sustainability dimensions and deriving recommendations for value chain design of sustainable fuel-based mobility.


Holistic Process Design for Separation of Bio-Hybrid Fuels

Holistic Process Design Copyright: © LTT

In this research project of the FSC, the LTT develops systematic methods to design sustainable production processes. Here, we use an innovative approach for the simultaneous optimization of processes and solvents (Holistic Process Design).

For this purpose, we integrate Computer-Aided Molecular Design (CAMD) in chemical process design for simultaneous optimization of solvents and molecules. In CAMD, thermodynamic property models and process models are used to relate molecular properties of solvents to process performance. Thus, the chemical structure of solvents is optimized with respect to process performance. For a holistic design approach, molecular optimization is embedded in process optimization. Finally, the combination of predictive thermodynamic models and experimental data yields a high accuracy of the predictions and a validation of the optimization.

The aim of the LTT is both the improvement of processes and the development of process design strategies. Ultimately, the design of resource-saving and energy efficient processes for the production of fuels and chemicals based on renewable resources is envisioned.


Integrating molecular and process design into life-cycle assessment

The transition towards flexible conversion pathways for bio-hybrid fuels requires a system-wide perspective to design novel transformation pathways with respect to their sustainability. Therefore, the LTT develops a system-wide approach to assess novel transformation pathways over all scales: from molecular to process to environmental scale.

In this project, we develop a framework that allows for molecular and process design beyond common categories of economic performance on process level but considers large-scale ecosystem implications based on life-cycle assessment. The framework builds on developing and integrating reliable prediction methods to translate molecular properties to economic, ecologic and societal descriptors based on predicted thermodynamic data and process simulations.

As a result, the framework yields novel transformation pathways that are not only economically viable but also sustainable in ecologic and societal categories. The results of this project can be integrated into consequential LCA, which already considers technical and market-mediated effects.


Project Details

Project website

Project Duration

01.01.2019 – 31.12.2025


Funded by the German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) within the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments to promote science and research at German universities.

  Logo DFG Copyright: © DFG