Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 38 | 23. Mai 2022

Priority Programme “A Contribution to the Realisation of the Energy Transition: Optimisation of Thermochemical Energy Conversion Processes for the Flexible Utilisation of Hydrogen-based Renewable Fuels Using Additive Manufacturing” (SPP 2419)

In March 2022, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “A Contribution to the Realisation of the Energy Transition: Optimisation of Thermochemical Energy Conversion Processes for the Flexible Utilisation of Hydrogen-based Renewable Fuels Using Additive Manufacturing” (SPP 2419). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the first three-year funding period.

The use of carbon-free chemical energy carriers such as hydrogen and ammonia in high-temperature thermochemical processes is essential for the transformation of the energy system towards a carbon-neutral energy conversion. These fuels offer significant advantages. They avoid greenhouse gas emissions, they can be produced with good efficiency utilising renewable electricity, and they are flexible in their use. Potentials of thermochemical energy conversion also arise when hydrogen is mixed with natural gas, as hydrogen can be successively added to the existing natural gas infrastructure, enabling a low-risk transition to a carbon-free energy economy. Here, the term “hydrogen-containing fuels” refers to mixtures of hydrogen, ammonia, and hydrocarbons with high hydrogen or ammonia content.

Compared to conventional fuels, hydrogen and ammonia have fundamentally different combustion properties, which are reflected, for example, in different burning rates, flammability limits, ignition energies, and pollutant formation behaviour. The advancement of hydrogen-containing fuel technology is important in all sectors including, for instance, power generation in gas turbines and the supply of process heat with industrial burners. It requires the joint increase of thermal efficiencies and reduction of pollutant emissions, while considering stability, fuel flexibility, and safety. These adaptations will be achieved here by a combination of simulation-based design with innovative manufacturing processes, e.g., additive manufacturing, and the associated degrees of freedom in materials and shaping. For this integrated approach, many of the relevant fundamental aspects are not yet sufficiently understood.

Accordingly, this Priority Programme takes a new interdisciplinary approach that links the competences of combustion science and additive manufacturing (AM). The hypothesis of the SPP is that only a comprehensive understanding of combustion fundamentals as well as the integration of modern 3D manufacturing processes and simulation-based design as well as the use and adoption of AM-suited materials can enable the simultaneous improvement of flexibility, efficiency, and emissions in thermochemical energy conversion processes.

For structuring the relevant research fields, it is important to establish the necessary interrelationships among combustion science and AM, but also to address fundamental questions of the individual disciplines. For thermochemical energy conversion, the relevant processes occur on length and time scales that span several orders of magnitude that require consideration of laboratory and system scales. For AM, burner and combustion chamber design (e.g., topology optimisation), sensor integration, and materials are important.

AM can make an important contribution in all areas of combustion to be investigated. On the laboratory scale, specially developed burners and combustion chambers can be manufactured for experimental investigation, e.g., of flame dynamics, which enables more in-depth knowledge through sensor integration or built-in gas sampling channels. In addition, AM can be used to transfer knowledge from the laboratory scale to the system scale to facilitate the development of fuel-flexible and scalable industrial burners and gas turbines. To address these challenges, fundamental issues must be solved. Examples include digital materials with locally manipulable properties (e.g., shape memory effects), thin-walled structures (e.g., channel geometries with locally changeable cross-sections), tailored surface roughness, multi-physical topology optimisation, component-integrated and/or printed sensor technology, and the development of high-temperature-resistant materials for AM.

The overarching aims of the project are to develop domain-specific knowledge and methods, to create an interdisciplinary research field between combustion science and manufacturing, and to demonstrate the approach both computationally and experimentally. The specific goals of the Priority Programme include the advancement of methods, since the design of highly complex AM-manufactured burner and combustion chamber concepts and appropriately adapted operating strategies requires an integrated process using predictive simulation, AM, and experimental analysis.

Specific long-term objectives are

  • establishment of high-temperature-resistant 3D-printed burner and combustion chamber concepts on a laboratory scale using multi-material processes and new concepts for temperature control of high-temperature-resistant materials (e.g., nickel-based superalloys, refractory metals),
  • automation and further development of sensor-integrated measurement technology,
  • automatic optimisation of combustion devices for industrial implementation with fuel flexibility up to 100% hydrogen or hydrogen/ammonia mixtures,
  • computer-aided upscaling of thermochemical-energy conversion plants for the energy transition.

The first period focuses on fundamental aspects and development of concepts. This includes

  • experimental databases for kinetic modelling,
  • physical knowledge and databases from basic laboratory experiments and direct numerical simulations on the internal structure of reaction zones, flame stabilisation, flame flashback, intrinsic instabilities, and pollutant formation; first modelling approaches,
  • establishment of comprehensive, well-documented, and shared data sets for system-scale standard configurations with first AM-manufactured burners (gas turbine, industrial burner),
  • derivation and first implementation of necessary development steps (design, material, process) in the field of AM (based on the requirements from combustion technology) addressing the specific requirements of hydrogen-based fuel combustion,
  • development of specialised, fuel-flexible, and scalable burners and combustion chambers for experimental investigations with, e.g., sensor integration and/or channels for gas extraction by AM.

The purpose of the SPP is to connect the disciplines of combustion science and advanced manufacturing. Applications considered here are thermochemical conversion of hydrogen-containing fuels, which includes hydrogen, ammonia, their blends, and blends with methane or natural gas. Catalytic and electrochemical conversion processes will not be considered in this SPP. More information on research areas and possible topics is provided on the SPP website listed below.

To foster the interdisciplinary approach, there is a preference for collaborative proposals in which complementary expertise is directly linked. Hence, it is desirable – while not always possible – that a project consists of three parts and includes one experimental, one theory/simulation/modelling subproject from the combustion field, and one additional AM subproject. To support the cooperation of projects across disciplines already in their design phase, interested applicants are encouraged to submit a short summary of their background, intended research topic, potential research team, and contact details. If desired, this information will be shared on a secure website with others who have submitted a synopsis. A template and more information are provided on the website listed below. We are also planning to organise a “DFG-Rundgespräch” to provide an opportunity for face-to-face discussions.

Proposals must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 29 November 2022. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system. To enter a new project within the existing Priority Programme, go to Proposal Submission – New Project/Draft Proposal – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 2419” from the current list of calls. In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (form 54.01). These forms can either be downloaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal.

Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 15 November 2022 to submit a proposal under this call; registration requests received after this time cannot be considered. You will normally receive confirmation of your registration by the next working day. Note that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during the proposal submission process.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available under:

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05 and 54.01 can be downloaded at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

  • Professor Dr.-Ing. Heinz Pitsch, 
    Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, 
    Fakultät für Maschinenwesen, 
    Institut für Technische Verbrennung, 
    Templergraben 64, 
    52062 Aachen, 
    phone +49 241 80-94607, 

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

Priority Programme contact:

Administrative contact: