Final Thesis

Modelling of the gas phase in water electrolysis modules using finite volume methods in OpenFOAM

Key Info

Basic Information

Fluid Process Engineering
Focus/Key Topic:


Due to improvements in microbiology, alternative synthesis routes for the production of new platform chemicals, like for example succinic, itaconic acid or L-alanine, via fermentation are receiving an increased interest. Still, the purification of complex fermentation media is expensive and remains to be the limiting step towards greater industrial application. Conventionally, the target molecule is being separated using precipitation or reactive extraction followed by evaporation- or cooling crystallization.

Since the pH-value is playing a central role in the purification of carboxylic and amino acids, most processes use additives to adjust the pH. This generates salt emissions, which lowers the economic and ecological feasibility of the process. To decrease these salt emissions, a new electrochemical downstream process was invented at AVT.FVT. The pH-shift is realized through water electrolysis. At the anode, water is oxidized into an oxonium ion and oxygen and thereby, the pH is lowered. In the cathode chamber, the pH is increased and can be used to buffer the fermentation.

For a better understanding of the electrolysis process, this work focuses on the advancement of an existing computational fluid dynamic (CFD)-Model in OpenFOAM by adding a second gas phase to the model. The gas phase introduces vertices and thereby detachments of the concentration gradient at the electrodes. This effect and the different permittivity of the gas phase influences the resistance and permittivity of the whole system. These changes shall be simulated for different voltages and compared against data from experiments. Additionally, the influence of the gas-phase on the mass transfer shall be investigated.
This work offers you:

  • Insights in electrochemical process engineering
  • Participation in the development of an innovative process concept
  • Acquisition of an open source program (OpenFOAM) with great recognition in both industry and science

You should be:

  • Interested in CFD-Simulation and working with OpenFOAM
  • Ideally: familiar with Linux and/or C++
  • Work meticulously and independent

I am more than happy to supervise this thesis completely in English. If you are interested or have any further question, feel free to contact me (preferably with a short CV) and I will explain you this thesis in more details.