Research areas


Project  “BEST –  Belgian Energy SysTem : The contribution of electro- and synthetic energy carriers to the security of supply” (2020-2024)
Funding: Energy Transition Fund - Federal Public Service
In collaboration with UGent, ULB, UMONS and VUB

Véronique Dias, Xavier Rixhon, Martin Colla, Davide Tonelli, Sara Spano

Our mission statement for this project is "Work out, for Belgium, the most ecnomical electro- and synthetic energy carrier routes needed to face the climte change issues and ensure the stability of the grid and the security of supply in beyond". To tackle this mission, we need to face the problem globally, from cradle to grave, without major assumptions that would flaw the conclusions. The ultimate goal is to deliver to the government guidelines for liquid and gaseous energy carriers, as one of the solutions in the energy toolbox for the transition to come.

Projet FEDER "ENERBIO" (2019-2024)
Arnaud Rouanet

The ENERBIO project aims to increase expertise in Wallonia in the generation of biofuels (liquid and gaseous) from different sources of biomass and in their valorisation in energy systems, and to improve the carbon balance of particularly energy-intensive processes. Fuel treatment by thermochemical processes will focus on the influence of steam injection in gasification to increase its efficiency and the value of the producer gas. The methodology will be primarily experimental and focused on operating an existing gasification facility to be transformed.

Project: « FREE – Flexible eneRgy vEctors of the futurE » (2016-2018),
Funding: ENGIE
In Collaboration with VUB, ULB, UGENT, UMONS

Véronique Dias and Maxime Pochet

The project aims at optimizing, at the level of a residential city district, the production, the storage and the use of different fuels derived from excess renewable electricity with a focus on the storage system design and sizing and on the efficient energy restitution from the stored fuels through combined heat and power facilities. In this study, different district and renewable scenarios are considered and optimal chemical storage solutions are proposed. In each scenario, the energy costs for the production of each fuel, for the storage and for the restitution into electrical and thermal energy are considered. This applied study on chemical storage underlines that the combination of these fuels can sustain a large part of all the electric needs of a district.

The principle of the chemical storage is to use excess electricity to produce hydrogen by electrolysis of water. Hydrogen can then be stored directly or further converted into methane (from hydrogen methanation if CO2 is available, e.g. from a carbon capture facility), methanol (again if CO2 is available), and/or ammonia (by an electrochemical process). These different fuels are stored in liquid or gaseous form, and thus with different energy densities, according to their physical and chemical natures.

In times of shortage of electrical, these chemical compounds are used for the production of electricity and heat through a specifically designed system. The four different fuels having different storage properties and optimal time frames, any district would need to resort to several of them, hence the need for a multifuel restitution system. Experiments are being carried out to use an Homogeneous-Charge Compression-Ignition (HCCI) engine for the purpose since it allows both fuel-flexibility and efficiency.

Project: « Kinetic model for hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds» (2009-2016)

Funding: Service Public de Wallonie
Véronique Dias

The project is focused on the study the combustion of various hydrocarbons or oxygenated compounds, which are considered as alternative fuels or additives, in laminar premixed flat flames.

These flames are stabilized on a burner at low pressure and analysed by GC, in order to evaluate pollutants formation and concentration.

The aim of the work is to build a complete reaction mechanism, named “UCL” taking into account the formation and the consumption of species detected in these flames. This mechanism will allow us to obtain precious information on the degrees and the rates of reactants conversion, the formation pathways of pollutants, the effects of additives, etc… This kinetic model will then be applied to industrial processes and devices (engines, furnaces, boilers…) to define their best operating conditions.

The current kinetic mechanism developed at UCL has so far been able to predict the combustion of permanent gases such as hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, ethylene, propane or propene, the combustion of oxygenated species such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acetone, propanal, methanol, ethanol, acetic acid, methylal, ethylal, water vapor or formic acid, and the combustion of heavy condensable species such as benzene and phenol.