Current research projects in the PSE group

Sustainable Design of Biomass Supply Chain Networks Under Uncertainty: Overview and Optimization based evaluation

The need to vary the energy matrix and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels has amplified the acceptance of bio-based fuels. Biomass can replace every type of fossil fuels in all markets. It can be used for heating and electricity purposes and also as a raw material to produce transport fuels and high-valued chemicals. Despite biomass being cheap and widely available, its use has barriers due to its low density and energetic efficiency, which raise the cost of its utilization. In this work, a biomass supply chain model, for the region of Lower Saxony in northern Germany, has been developed.

In this work, a bio-based supply chain is created for Lower Saxony. The economic and environmental benefits that this supply chain provides show to what extent Lower Saxony can become fossil fuel independent. These results are used to have a rough picture of the whole Germany and to answer the following question: how biomass can successfully take up the torch from fossil fuels?

Contact: Christos Galanopoulos, M.Sc.

Embracing the Renewable Energy Era: Multi-level investigation of battery energy storage systems

Germany currently aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and up to 95 percent in 2050. Parallel to this activity is Germany’s aim to raise its renewables share to 60 percent (12 percent in 2015) by 2050. The growing interest for renewable power sources and their inclusion in the energy mix of many developed countries have brought new challenges for novel grid-level energy management strategies. Coupling renewable power sources with energy storage systems can ease this transition and is in line with the smart grid concept, allowing better energy management through strategies such as peak shaving and load leveling. Given the current scenario of the energy sector and the challenges that renewable energy integration pose, some questions arise: Can electrochemical storage alone smooth over the power generation variability inherent to renewable sources? What decisions can be made in regards to operation, scheduling and design of power systems to make electrochemical storage more economically attractive in Germany?

The aim of this project is to shed light on these questions using mathematical programming, modeling and optimization tools.

Contact: Leonardo Maia, M.Sc.

Investigation of carbon capture, sequestration and utilization network design

Global warming which is becoming an ever-increasing problem has been mainly attributed to the combustions of fossil solid, liquid and gaseous fuels in various activities including power plants, cement and fermentation plants, industries, transportation, heating (cooling), cooking and other events. Pollutants from such combustions often consist of a mixture of NOx, SOx, CH4 and CO2 that are known as the greenhouse gases (GHGs). It is generally accepted that the control of the GHGs leads to the reduction of detrimental effects on human beings’ life from climate change. CO2 is not the most severe GHG, however, its high emission rates make it the most unavoidable anthropogenic GHG. Therefore, to accomplish the reduction of global warming, sustainable practices through recovery and utilization of CO2 must be found. A combination of two technologies, called CO2 capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS), will allow to put more CO2-based projects into reality because it will remediate obstacles existing if only each route is selected.

The aim of this research is to formulate a methodology that can be used to meet the various targets for GHG emission of a part or a region or a state of a country, or even globally, along with considering multiple criteria such as technological, economic and social aspects. In addition, the research will support a suitable decision-making tool in selecting the optimum solution in a range of scenarios and conducting sensitivity analysis through a step-by-step procedure.

Contact: Tuan B. H. Nguyen, M.Sc.

Design and Optimization of Hydrogen Supply Chain Network for Mobility Applications: Large Scale Production, Storage and Distribution

Nowadays, fossil fuels continue to be the primary energy source for transportation, electricity, and residential services. It also has played a significantly role on global investigations over the past decades. However, it has limited reserves, and nobody can predict when it will end. Thus, one of solutions is to use an alternative fuel. Hydrogen fuel offers a number of advantages over existing fuels, especially in transportation applications.

The goal of this project is to show the potential of hydrogen mobile application in the Northern Germany as renewable energy source. There are several factors, which should be considered when assessing the development of hydrogen economy such as energy efficiency, environmental impact and cost effective delivering pathways. Finding the optimal network configuration will be required taking into account the full range of local factors, such as geographic distribution of resources for hydrogen production, existing hydrogen generation and transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure, anticipated hydrogen demand at the retail station and distance between the place of hydrogen production and hydrogen demand.

Contact: Anthon Ochoa Bique, M.Sc.

Development of an energy efficiency toolbox for the process industry

Many efforts have been done to use energy from fossil sources in an efficient way. Often these efforts seem impractical as the developments do not match the growing population and the increasing need for energy.

The aim of this project is to develop a toolbox that can be used to diagnose energy use and losses in process systems. Once the sources of energy loss have been identified, this tool should also aid in replacing these bottle necks with renewable options. The first step in this project is to evaluate the capabilities of exergy analysis. Exergy analysis is a powerful and flexible tool which has been applied in sustainability studies, economics, ecology, policy making, ecosystem analysis and societal systems. Subsequently a ontological database that proposes renewable options for different energy bottlenecks will be constructed. The toolbox will be developed and tested on a crude oil refinery, which provides a realistic case study.

Contact: Poland Jelihi, M.Eng.