Chemical Kinetics and Analytics

High-temperature flow reactor
The molecular beam mass spectrometer with the sampling system - consisting of the quartz nozzle and skimmer - can be seen on the left. On the right is the high-temperature furnace with red-hot ceramic tube for analysing the fuels.

Our research focuses on novel, synthetic fuels from renewable sources that are used in the research areas of energy, aviation and transport.

We analyse gaseous and liquid energy carriers for their chemical composition as well as their properties, and combustion chemistry and use this analysis to predict the formation of possible pollutants. The practical analysis of emissions and their effects on air quality in laboratory and field tests round off the range of tasks. Both analytical and kinetic research questions relating to combustion chemistry are systematically analysed, from the scientific fundamentals to technical application.

Liquid synthetic fuel in the laboratory
To analyse fuel samples using differential thermal analysis, they must be filled into special sample containers.

Synthetic fuels are designed specifically

Researchers from the department use their methods and knowledge for the characterisation, evaluation and optimisation of liquid fuels, mainly from the field of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and e-fuels (power-to-liquid, PtL). For example, it enables us to design synthetic fuels in such a way that they produce fewer emissions during combustion. Together with colleagues from the Multiphase Flows and Alternative Fuels (MAT) department, we developed the DLR Prescreening for aviation and the Technical Fuel Assessment in all mobility sectors - two processes that enable technology transfer in these areas.

The department has comprehensive experimental equipment in the fields of chemical analytics and chemical kinetics. Chemical analysis involves the determination of selected physical properties and detailed chemical composition using two-dimensional gas chromatography. These and other methods are adapted and further developed to address issues that go far beyond the state of the art. The experimental kinetic equipment includes large-scale shock wave tubes of various sizes, a high-pressure laminar burner and specialised molecular beam mass spectrometry (MBMS), which can be coupled to flow reactors and laminar flames.

Modelling Flamespeeds

The department develops its own software

The experimental data are provided for the development, validation and optimisation of kinetic reaction mechanisms. The development of chemical mechanisms is carried out in the department, as is optimisation and reduction using in-house tools (e.g. linTM software). The experimental portfolio is rounded off with the metrological recording of the gas and particle phase in exhaust gas emissions or for the determination of air quality. One speciality is the investigation of ultra-fine dust particles in stationary or mobile field tests. Comprehensive, complementary measurement technology from gas to particle phase for stationary applications on test benches as well as a modern mobile measurement laboratory are used here.

The department's core competences are divided into the following areas:

Chemical analysis

  • Experimental reaction kinetics
  • Numerical reaction kinetics
  • Reaction mechanisms
  • Emissions and air quality
  • Synthetic fuels for energy conversion and mobility

Research services of the department CKA:

  • DLR PreScreening of new fuel candidates (CKA/MAT)
  • Technical Fuel Assessment
  • Demand-driven reaction mechanisms: development, optimisation and reduction
  • Chemical-kinetic characterisation incl. validation data
  • Emission measurements with a focus on particles
  • Air quality and monitoring with a focus on ultrafine particulate matter (UFP)


Dr. Markus Köhler

Head of Department Chemical Kinetics and Analytics Department
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Combustion Technology
Pfaffenwaldring 38-40, 70569 Stuttgart