Course paper / final thesis

Optimization of Solar Fuel Production of Multi-Chamber Reactors

Starting date


Duration of contract

6 months


up to the German TVöD 5

Type of employment


"Cutting-edge research requires excellent minds – particularly more females – at all levels. Launch your mission with us and send in your application now!" Prof. Pascale Ehrenfreund - Chair of the DLR Executive Board

A main research topic at the Institute of Solar Research is the production of solar fuels. Recently, the full production path of solar kerosene was demonstrated for the first time on an actual solar tower. In the first step of a two-step batch process a metal oxide is reduced at temperatures above 1400°C and oxygen is released, as it is shown in figure 1. The oxygen is purged by nitrogen, which flows through the honeycomb or foam-shaped redox material.

In the second step of the process, the reduced metal oxide is oxidized by steam (H2O) and hydrogen (H2) is released. This happens at lower temperatures of about 900°C. The necessary energy for both steps of the cycle is provided by solar radiation, which is concentrated by a heliostat field (figure 2). Performing the oxidation with a mixture of H2O and CO2 instead of pure H2O allows the direct production of synthesis gas, which can be further processed to fuels like kerosene via a Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. So far the production of syngas has been demonstrated in a 1MW scale. For a larger scale of 10MW-100MW multiple reactor chambers should be employed, as it is depicted in figure 2. The heliostat field has to aim the solar radiation at these chambers.

In the thesis the output of such a larger scale plant should be optimized. This comprises the way how the heliostat field should distribute the incoming solar radiation to the chambers and how each chamber should be operated to obtain maximum fuel output.

Your goals:

  • selection of a suitable optimization algorithm
  • tailoring new or existing reactor models to the needs of the optimizer
  • plant operation optimization

Your qualifications:

  • subject of study: Mechanical/Process/Energy Engineering, Physics, Math or similar
  • programming experience (i.e. MATLAB, Python, C++)
  • self-reliant way of working
  • knowledge about control systems, optimization and thermodynamics/heat transfer is helpful

Your benefits:

Look forward to a fulfilling job with an employer who appreciates your commitment and supports your personal and professional development. Our unique infrastructure offers you a working environment in which you have unparalled scope to develop your creative ideas and accomplish your professional objectives. Our human resources policy places great value on a healthy family and work-life-balance as well as equal opportunities for persons of all genders (m/f/non-binary). Individuals with disabilities will be given preferential consideration in the event their qualifications are equivalent to those of other candidates.

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Technical contact

Johannes Grobbel
Institute of Solar Research

Phone: +49 2203 6014-416

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Vacancy 43196

HR department Cologne

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DLR site Jülich

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DLR Institute of Solar Research

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