Meet the partner:

Thomas Echterhof, Nico Schmitz and Christian Schwotzer of the RWTH Aachen University


Can you shortly introduce yourself and your role in the HyInHeat project?

The Department for Industrial Furnaces and Heat Engineering (IOB) of the RWTH Aachen University is the coordinator of HyInHeat. The core team consists of Thomas, Nico and Christian, who were also the driving force during proposal preparation.

Thomas is the head of the team and takes care of general coordination, management and communication activities. He is the academic director of the department and has more than 15 years of experience in industrial furnace technologies, especially in the steel industry. He has a strong track record and was involved in several European projects.

Nico is part of the coordination team and an expert in hydrogen combustion and industrial furnace technologies. He is group manager of the combustion and burner technologies group at our department. Besides coordination he and his team are involved in several work packages and tasks of HyInHeat, especially in the development, modelling, implementation and technical evaluation of the new hydrogen technologies.

Christian is also part of the coordination team and responsible for the environmental assessment for the implementation of the developed technologies and processes by life cycle analysis. He is manager of the renewable energies and low-CO2 process heating group of the department. His team focuses on defossilization of process heat, technical-economic analyses and energy and CO2 balancing.

How did IOB of RWTH Aachen University get involved in the HyInHeat project?

The IOB initiated the project proposal and built up the consortium. Within the proposal preparation phase the team of Thomas, Nico and Christian had meetings and discussions with many potential partners to figure out the best combination of European companies, RTOs and universities for the project. Together with the partners they developed work packages, scope and goals of the project and coordinated the writing process.

How do you see the added value of HyInHeat for IOB of RWTH Aachen University?

The project will strengthen the expertise of the department in hydrogen combustion for industrial heating processes in aluminium and steel industry but also burner and measurement technologies, process and combustion modelling and standardization for hydrogen combustion. The new technologies developed within the project will be first of a kind applications in many cases. Due to the relevance of the topic for other industries, the number of demonstrators and use cases within the HyInHeat project and the size and diversity of the consortium, there will be a strong impact of the international visibility of the research and development activities of the department and the university.

What is the role of IOB of RWTH Aachen University in the HyInHeat project?

As coordinator the IOB is the head of the project and in charge of horizontal work packages like technical and administrative management, the organization of project meetings, like the kick-off in Aachen and communication and reporting especially in contact with the European Commission.

In addition, the IOB is involved in several other work packages and tasks. Therefore, besides the coordination team, the research assistants Franziska Ott, Alex Garcia-Vergara, Johannes Losacker, Lukas Sankowski, Elsa Busson, Felix Kaiser and Andrés Ramírez Sánchez of the department work on different tasks of HyInHeat. The activities include the development of new hydrogen technologies for processes of the steel and aluminium industry with focus on:

  • NOx legislation, standardization and future limits
  • Investigation on the impact of flow measurement for different hydrogen qualities
  • Development of a simulation framework for both air and oxyfuel combustion
  • CFD simulations of single burner configurations, radiant tube and full furnaces (walking beam furnace and reverberatory melting furnace)
  • Studies on an aluminium reheating furnace and a continuous galvanizing line

For the evaluation of the environmental performance of alternative options for implementing hydrogen technologies in retrofitting and greenfield solutions the IOB conducts life cycle assessments of the demonstrators and use cases of the aluminium sector in collaboration with the project partners.

What do you hope to achieve by the end of the project?

Together with the project partners we hope to develop new hydrogen technologies successfully, which contribute to the decarbonization of the industry. We want to achieve a better understanding of application possibilities of new technologies in other sectors and of course, a wide dissemination of the results. Finally, the project results should contribute to standardization and reporting rules for hydrogen heating in industrial heating processes.

Watch the interview with Thomas Echterhof of RWTH Aachen University below .

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