Cluster of Excellence “The Fuel Science Center” - Adaptive Conversion Systems for Renewable Energy and Carbon Sources

  DFG ECX 2186 - FSC Copyright: The Fuel Science Center DFG ECX 2186 - FSC

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.

Current research on renewable fuels is focused on fuel replacements for present-day engine technology that are either biofuels from non-food biomass or e-fuels from CO2 capture and utilization. FSC goes far beyond this approach 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.

FSC strengthens disciplinary competences in natural sciences, engineering sciences, and social sciences and converges them in a dynamic team science approach. Forward-integration occurs from fundamental science to the complex systems of fuel production, mobility, and transportation. Simultaneously, system-level information is propagated back by inverse methodologies to enable an integrated molecular and machine design.

FSC capitalizes on achievements of the Cluster of Excellence ”Tailor-Made Fuels from Biomass (TMFB)“ to act as a structuring element at RWTH Aachen University and its partner institutions. Together with the Forschungszentrum Jülich and the two Max Planck Institutes at the Campus Mülheim, a world-class research environment will be established, which is embedded in a network of strategic partnerships with globally leading research institutions and companies. Joint appointment models for junior research groups, tenure track and lighthouse professorships will create attractive career paths within the German academic landscape.


Project Details


  • Valeri Kirsch
  • Leif Schumacher

Project Duration

  • 2019 – 2025

Funded by

  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)


Participating Institutions in Germany:

  • RWTH Aachen University
  • Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ)
  • Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion
  • Max-Planck Institut für Kohleforschung

Institutions as cooperation partners:

  • University of Alberta
  • University of California
  • CO-Optimization of Fuels & Engines (Co-Optima)
  • Öko-Institut – Institute for Applied Ecology
  • Energieagentur.NRW

Applied Infrastructure


  • Transparent High-Pressure Spin-Coater
  • Adaptive Fuel Injection System
  • Spray Chambers
  • Glass Nozzle Test Bench
  • Microscopy Chamber
  • Catalytic Flow Chamber
  • Gas-Premixing Unit
  • Single Droplet Generator

Laser-Optical Methods:

  • Ultra-Highspeed Visualization
  • Tunable IR Laser System
  • LWIR-CRD, Long-Wavelength Infrared Cavity-Ringdown Laser-Absorption Spectroscopy
  • Femtosecond Transmitted Light Microscopy
  • FTIR
  • Shadowgraphy
  • Schlieren
  • Microscopy
  • Laser Correlation Velocimetry
  • Phase Doppler Anemometry
  • Laser Doppler Anemometry
  • 2D-2c-LIF EET
  • Planar LIF
  • Micro-PIV