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Interview with

Christoph Falter, M.Sc.

Alternative Fuels, Energy Technologies and Power Systems

Solar fuels can contribute significantly to the reduction of emissions from aviation.
Christoph Falter, M.Sc.

Christoph Falter has been employed at Bauhaus Luftfahrt since January, 2011. A 32-year-old mechanical engineer, he is a member of the research focus area “Alternative Fuels” and an expert in the field of the potentials of solar fuels.

What is your current research focus, Mr. Falter?

At the moment, I run simulations of generic reactors for the production of solarthermochemical fuels. In this area of research, there are currently many different and promising approaches for the achievement of higher efficiencies. My work contributes to the assessment of these approaches, trying to identify the best concepts beforehand. Furthermore, I perform a life-cycle analysis of the process and calculate the production costs of the fuel.

What is the relevance of your work for the future of aviation?

The production of solar fuels promises to contribute to the solution of one of the most pressing problems of aviation, namely a sustainable fuel supply. If the goals of the aviation industry of reduced greenhouse gas emissions are to be reached, besides technical advancements, significant improvements of the fuels have to be implemented. Solar fuels can contribute to the reduction of these emissions.

Which methods and tools are you using?

I develop thermodynamic models of thermochemical reactors to estimate their efficiency. For this purpose, I describe the systems mathematically and solve the system of equations in a dynamic simulation using specialised software. For the description of economic and ecological performance of the fuel production process, developed methods and corresponding software is used.

What are the results of your work?

I was able to show that the recuperation of heat has an efficiency potential of about 80 % and that heat exchangers will be an essential part of future reactors. For a sustainable fuel production, a renewable source both for CO2 and for the required electricity is necessary. If these requirements are met, a fuel with overall very low CO2 emissions can be produced.

In what way does Bauhaus Luftfahrt provide the best environment for your research?

As my research is on the border between engineering, chemistry, and physics, I take advantage of the interdisciplinary orientation of Bauhaus Luftfahrt. We employ chemists, physicists, material scientists, and engineers, besides others, that can give me input for my research with their expertise on many different topics.