Thermo-chemical Conversion Department

The Thermo-chemical Conversion Department addresses a range of topics associated with the thermo-chemical conversion of biogenic solid fuels for the efficient, demand-based supply of power and/or heat or cold. All scientific and technical aspects along the entire utilization chain are considered, i.e.: production, supply and modification of the solid fuels; the conversion plant and its control; emissions cleaning as well as system and net integration.

The approach is both theoretical, by means of monitoring and basic observation, as well as practical, based on development work and optimisation. In order to expand the share of Germany’s energy mix obtained from renewables, as demanded by the government’s Climate Protection Initiative, the efficiency of the use of solid biofuels must be significantly increased. At the same time, environmental impact of energy related biomass utilization must be reduced – in particular, emission of fine dust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) –. In response to those demands, the Thermo-chemical Conversion department investigates how the available biomass resources can be exploited, such as by the use of mixed biofuels. It is involved in the further optimisation existing combustion systems and the development of new equipment.

Furthermore emission reduction and control including catalytic processes are investigated. Other efforts include the design of innovative control systems for combinations of bioenergy with other renewable energies, the development and optimization of combined heat and power (CHP) systems in all power ranges; and enabling efficient frameworks for demand-based energy production and integrationof bioenergy into grids.

The research focus areas "SmartBiomassHeat" and "Catalytic emission control" are located in this area. They deal with selected topics of thermo-chemical conversion of biomass and work across departments.

The working groups

The working group deals with all issues relating to the characterisation, processing and modification of biogenic solids, in particular including biogenic residues and waste materials for a wide range of applications.

Focus topics of the working group:

  • Processing of solid biomass and biogenic residues and waste materials into high-quality products
  • Agglomeration of biogenic coals
  • Implementation of preparation process steps such as comminution, drying, mixing and homogenisation as well as their process optimisation
  • Implementation of compaction processes such as pelletisation, briquetting and granulation as well as the associated process optimisation
  • Influencing the properties of solid biomass through conditioning and additives
  • Modelling of compaction processes
  • Investigations into binding mechanisms during the agglomeration of biogenic raw materials or coal
  • Research and development of new alternative (mixed) fuels from biomass
  • Development of a fuel database including combustion-relevant properties
  • Legal issues regarding the termination of end-of-waste properties
  • Market observation for the production of innovative material products from biogenic solids

Contact person:

Dr. Claudia Kirsten (Head of the working group)
Phone: +49 (0)341 2434-534
E-Mail | Profile

The aim of the small plant technology working group is to further develop and optimize thermo-chemical conversion plants and any secondary flue gas cleaning systems that may be required, so that in future virtually emission-free plants can be offered on the market for all biogenic solid fuels that can be considered relevant.

Focus topics of the working group:

  • Optimization and development of single-room fireplaces
  • Development and optimization of flexibly operable, highly efficient and emission-free automatic biomass solid fuel firing systems in the power range from 2 to 400 kW
  • Development and optimization of catalytic emission reduction processes
  • Development, optimization and integration of combined dust collectors
  • Development, optimization and integration of individual components for thermochemical conversion in small plants
  • application-oriented use of numerical flow simulation (CFD)

Contact person:

Dr. Mirjam Müller (Head of the working group, provisional), 2nd contact: Prof. Dr. Ingo Hartmann
Phone: +49 (0)341 2434-473 /-541
E-Mail | Profile

In addition to the thermo-chemical fundamentals for the implementation of biogenic solid fuels and the pollutant formation mechanisms that take place, all areas of coupled heat and power supply are considered both in the development of plants and in the technical concept evaluation and preparation. The integration into the existing energy supply structures with optimized control systems is also an essential part of the work.

Focus topics of the working group:

Integrating concepts - control strategies

  • Development and optimization of system controllers for building heating (power) systems based on biomass including storage and integration of other renewable energies
  • Development of controllers and control concepts for the demand-oriented integration of biomass CHP plants into the grid system (including control energy)
  • Overarching concepts and preparation of specifications for individual plants for demand-oriented energy supply

Development of flexible (micro)CHP technologies

  • Development of micro-CHP(K) plants with 0.2 - 20 kWel for biogenic solid fuels
  • Concept development and development for the next generation of biomass cogeneration plants (e.g. IGCC)

Contact person:

Dr. Mohammad Al-Addous (Head of the working group)
Phone: +49 (0)341 2434-543

The working group has been established with the aim to foster SDG attainment via transformative research in close cooperation with partners and vulnerable groups in the Global South.

Focus topics of the working group:

  • Improvement of soil fertility and its water absorptive capacities via bio-charcoal application after co-composting with organic materials - possibly also as Carbon-Offset projects (Clean Development Mechanism);

  • Adaptation and dissemination of improved stoves for efficient and healthy cooking in rural areas;

  • Facilitation of bioenergy (co-)production based on agricultural residues;

  • Knowledge sharing, upgrading of professional and scientific education, and establishment of laboratory capacities for biobased solutions

Contact person:

Kerstin Wilde (Head of the working group)
Phone: +49 (0)341 2434-514

The working group of  "Biogenic Char Applications" deals with all questions related to the production, characterization and further application of biogenic char.

Focus topics of the working group:

  • Comprehensive characterization of biogenic coals to determine further application areas (e.g. soil improvement, building materials, fuel, etc.)
  • Development of new fields of application for biogenic coal for further defossilation of the material and energy systems, including development and testing at the technical center
  • Investigations into carbon capture possibilities through biogenic char, e.g. as a technical carbon sink
  • Production of tailor-made biogenic char from various feedstocks using pyrolysis, torrefaction and pyrolytic combustion depending on the application in adapted plants on a pilot scale and in larger quantities in cooperation with industrial partners
  • Techno-economical evaluation and simulation of the production processes and the products examined

The working group works particularly closely with colleagues at the DBFZ on gasification, hydrothermal carbonization, biogenic char use in the biogas context, resource availability and LCA accounting.

Contact person:

Dr. Özge Mutlu (Head of the working group)
Phone: +49 (0)341 2434-544


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