17th ERCOFTAC Da Vinci Competition 2022 - Winner

Lukas Berger

(RWTH Aachen University, Germany)

"Numerical study on thermodiffusive instabilities in laminar and turbulent hydrogen flames"

Lukas Berger - winner of
17th Da Vinci Competition 2022
  • What is the topic of your PhD thesis?

In my PhD thesis, I investigated intrinsic instabilities of hydrogen flames. Hydrogen is a very promising fuel candidate as it is carbon-free and very versatile in energy on-demand applications. Its deployment represents a unique opportunity to decarbonize our energy system. However, the combustion behaviour of hydrogen flames is entirely different compared to conventional fuels due to intrinsic flame instabilities, which have a leading order effect on the flame dynamics. As the underlying mechanisms were not yet understood, I performed large-scale direct numerical simulations for a detailed analysis of these instabilities. The data not only provided a comprehensive understanding of the instabilities, but also laid the foundation for the development of predictive models for large eddy simulations. These are not yet available but are critically important for the development of next generation combustion devices operated with hydrogen.

  • What motivates you in your work?

I particularly enjoyed the complexity of intrinsic instabilities and the strong inter-disciplinarity of this research topic, involving aspects of fluid dynamics, chemical reaction kinetics, numerical schemes, high performance computing, and data-driven modeling approaches. Further, the paramount relevance of hydrogen as a fuel for the transformation of our energy systems towards carbon-free energy processes and, hence, for our society highly motivates me to further pursue this path of research.

  • What does the Da Vinci competition mean to you?

I feel very honored to be selected among the top five candidates for such a notable prize, known as the most prestigious award for fluid dynamics for young researchers in Europe.

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

I am highly motivated to contribute to key challenges for our society, such as the successful transformation towards sustainable energy systems. For this, enabling the deployment of hydrogen as a fuel represents one significant challenge among several others. I am excited to further contribute in this field and also expose myself to several other pressing questions in the future.

  • What advice would you give to new PhD students starting in fluid mechanics?

In my opinion, enjoying the subject matter and identifying yourself with the vision of your project are the key factors for a successful completion of a PhD.


Date: ERCOFTAC Autumn Festival 2022, 6th - 7th October 2022
Hosted by Pilot Centre Henri Bénard: Ecole Centrale de Lyon, Écully, France