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Compact pilot plant for solar to liquid fuels production

9 November 2016

Partners from Germany and Finland in the SOLETAIR project are building a compact pilot plant for the production of gasoline, diesel and kerosene from solar energy, regenerative hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The plant will be compact enough to fit into a shipping container.

The plant consists of three components. A direct air capture unit developed by the Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT) extracts carbon dioxide from air. An electrolysis unit developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) produces the required hydrogen by means of solar power. A microstructured, chemical reactor—the key component of the plant—converts the hydrogen produced from solar power together with carbon dioxide into liquid fuels. This reactor was developed by KIT. The compact plant was developed to maturity and is now being commercialized by KIT spin-off INERATEC.

The new power-to-liquid plant will be taken into operation at the BIORUUKKI Piloting Center of VTT this year. In 2017, operation is planned to be continued on the campus of LUT. The SOLETAIR project will be completed in mid-2018. It is funded with €1 million by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes).

INERATEC GmbH develops, constructs, and sells compact chemical plants for various gas-to-liquid and power-to-liquid applications. The spinoff is supported under the EXIST research transfer program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

KIT, INERATEC, and VTT plan to extend their cooperation. Under the national research alliances of “Energy Lab 2.0” and “Neo-Carbon Energy,” work will focus on the investigation and development of innovative energy systems based on renewable energy sources, novel storage technologies, and the conversion of renewable energies into chemical energy carriers.

In addition, KIT and INERATEC are contributing their expertise to the “Power-to-X” Kopernikus project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

The main research topics for the P2X project are:

  • Medium - and large-scale electrolysis systems for the production of hydrogen from excess wind and solar power, research on materials for high-pressure and high-temperature electrolysis, demonstration projects and optimization with regard to flexibility, efficiency, transit times and costs, reducing the use of precious metal. Testing under real conditions of use, to be expected in the operation with surplus power.

  • Testing of different process routes for Power-to-Liquid and development of Power-to-Chemicals such as methanol, Fischer-Tropsch fuels, higher-order alcohols, process design, pilot and demonstration projects and comparing alternative paths of conversion on the basis of CO2 footprint and cost, evaluation of systemic aspects including comprehensive cost and benefit analyses.

November 9, 2016 in Fuels, Hydrogen, Hydrogen Production, Solar fuels | Permalink | Comments (20)

Comments

Hopefully, Europe will continue cutting edge renewable energy R&D.

With a leader having no experience in science, government, or the military - it is unlikely the US will.

I believe using excess Wind/Solar grid energy is where this application is targeted.

Excess energy from Hydro and Geothermal Power production as well.

Save your money. The advancements in solar, wind, battery technologies and the Tesla EVs have pointed out the future in all forms of transportation and it ain't liquid fuels no matter what you use to create them, especially if it takes several transformations of energy to reach the final form. That's why fossil fuels are not competitive any longer. The least costly form of energy is locally solar generated electrons stored in batteries. Nothing else close.

There are other ways to harness excess energy that creating a combustible fuel. And,continuing to burn fuel in the atmosphere is going backwards..

Jets will require fuel for decades.

LAD. It is hard to predict. Making clean HC fuels is a positive step away from non-renewable HC, and the Utopian clean energy future. Base=Electrical loads will be dirty for a long time, which is sad too.

I believe there should a law that prohibits the Transport of Dirty Energy more than 10 miles (15 Km) in any direction. The transport of Clean Energy will have no boundaries. Cities will have to build Dirty Electrical plants in a Hub-and-Spoke model if they cannot acquire or create sufficient clean energy. In this way, they will be Consuming/Breathing their own waste.

Anyone who thinks there's a way to limit the transport of electric power to a specific distance has no idea of the physics by which power transmission and distribution works.

The main issue is the current fleet of ICE and fuel turbines need liquid hydrocarbons. A massive bolt on technology breathrough like in wheel electric motors is the only way we migrate off liquid hydro carbons. It would take 30 years to replace all the ICE fleet with BEV's. Trump my setback the whole conversion process here to electric propulsion, Rich people cant stay rich if people can make their own cheap Joules. Europe and Japan will have to be trailblazers for now. So this technology makes since with our renewable surpluses during lowest demand. Since renewable's are mostly distributed enabling locating these renewable liquid hydrocarbons closer to consumers.

There are many people out there that would have made a good President of the people. The two losers we had to pick from just shows you how fricked up our two party/electoral college election process really is. And, sadly it's been that way for a long time. Trump was right; the system is rigged not against him; but, against the American people...time this was changed to an unlimited amount of candidates and the winner wins by the most votes...so everyone's vote counts, not just the battleground states. Under Trump, the states will have to step up to rid us of fossil fuels, since his first acts will be to sink whathass been done in renewables and climate concerns. But, my biggest concern is that he will start another war. We still have the non-ending Iraq War started by the last bunch of Republicans still raging. What a mess! I can't believe people want change so badly they voted Trump in.

Aviation and shipping is going to need liquid fuels for many decades for sure. The only thing that I can see that can replace aviation and shipping is the Hyperloop and just to get a low volume global industry started on hyperloop solutions will take 10 years. More decades are needed to scale it up to make a serious dent in aviation and shipping. So going from fossil fuels to synthetic fuels made from renewables will be progress although it will still be polluting to burn synthetic fuels just not co2 polluting.

It is going to be interesting to see what Trump will do now that he got the power. I hope he will not be a protectionist killing off all global trade. If the US start with trade restrictions so will other countries and then all international trade can stop like it did in 1929 and that caused the great depression. Hundreds of millions will lose their jobs globally as a result and we will all suffer incredibly. Hopefully it was just populist talk to get elected and nothing else. I think it was just populist talk. Trump talked about creating more economic growth and jobs and if he is any smart he knows that high grows necessitate more free trade not less. We will see.

E-P. I am a PhD EE, so I do understand the Physics of long distance power transmission.

I am trying to make a point about "how can we disable the transport of Dirty Energy, i.e., Non-Renewable HCs, Non-Renewably generated Electricity, etc. This is a Supply-side Limiter of dirty energy as opposed to CO2 Cap and Trade which I think of as a Demand side limiter of Dirty Energy.

I believe dense Urban areas (LA, SF, ...) must start producing all their Electricy from Dirty sources locally. Long distance transmission of Dirty Electricity must be outlawed. CoGen will become more a Reality in this model.

No More Hypocrisy. Dirty Electrical Consumers must Breath and/or Clean their own waste.

On Henrik's topic of where America goes from here I listened to a Bloomberg interview with Carl Icahn and although he was most enthusiastic about bragging how he was able to make a cool profit on the overnight futures market, he did mention that energy self sufficiency was a policy objective that he considered worthy.That seems to make sense to me since a good portion of that horrible deficit we've heard so much about goes towards importing oil and USA could employ all those desperate deplorable's at building hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles that would offset a good proportion of the oil imports.

I don't think that is what Carl had in mind though cause he then went on to complain about the regulations restricting fracking which is understandable given that oil production has only doubled in a very short period of time and America has gone from a gas importing nation to a gas exporting nation under the hopelessly incompetent and business unfriendly Obama administration. You get the impression he's more of a drill baby drill sort of guy.

It'll be interesting to see how it plays out though. Here in Oilberta there is a renewed sense of optimism about the future (for us (not USA)) cause all we care about is if you keep buying we'll keep selling. One can hardly sleep at night for all the popping of champagne corks. I expect something similar is going on in Ryadh though I'd expect the Saudi's are a bit more discreet about their celebration as they must keep up appearances for the schmall folk there.

Calgary I am for a pollution free future but I am also a realist. We can’t have it now. It will take time even if we do it as fast as humanly possible. Until then I am supporting a lot of the things that Trump has said he will do like 1) allowing the oil and gas industry to drill everywhere, 2) allowing this industry to build pipelines everywhere, 3) allowing this industry to export their products (has already happened last year). I would much rather have that the US make its own oil than it imports it from enemy cultures like those in the Middle East that hates democracy and everything the west represents. To do any business with them that is strategic like energy and weapons is a huge security liability for the western culture and I blame the establishment in the West for being naïve enough to let it happen. Hopefully, Trump will end this business practice. It can be done within 4 years by drilling more at home, by making buying BEVs more attractive and by not limiting the use of the self-driving taxis on the Tesla Network (and other self-driving taxi networks) when it is possible sometime in 2018. Trump will also do stuff that I am very much against like letting the car industry make more polluting cars by limiting EPA powers. It will not stop the BEVs from coming but it will lead to more premature death from air pollution in the US.

I am also for Trumps policy of either withdrawing US military bases abroad or ask the harboring countries to pay the full cost of operating them. The US should not pay a cent for other countries security. Same goes for the intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. Either they pay in full or they get no help. If a society is not able to maintain its own security it is not the right people that are in power and then it should fall. The West should also not interfere with how the people in power stay in power outside of the West. It is very simple. It is not possible for any government to fight IS or AQ unless they are as brutal against them as they are in their fight. That means the West will have to accept that non-western countries applies murder and torture sometimes on a massive scale to be effective in their fight against IS and AQ. There is no other way to stop them from taking over unless you have enormous resources and this is not the case for Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. The hippies can scream and shout about peace and human rights but in the end it is brutal violence that determines who is in power. So I pray that the good people are the most brutal.

Henrik

I think US is on the path to 25 million BPD. Could be completely wrong but we'll see. As I said before I think the best thing for USA would be to reduce as much as possible but it doesn't seem to be in the cards.

Shaking up world order could be a good thing but you need to be careful. Germany and Japan will probably want to nuke up quite quickly if the power balances shift enough. Who knows how other alliances may change. I doubt if DT has much experience in some of these matters and I doubt if many of his greed driven inner circle do either.

We are going to have a bumpy ride the next 4 years,
fasten your seat belts.

Calgary current US oil production is 12.5 million BPD and slightly falling on a monthly basis. http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=mttfpus2&f=m

We need 50 USD per barrel to increase oil production slightly. 60 USD or above is needed for strong growth in US oil production. We will get 60 USD or more if there is more war in the Middle East for example an open war between Iran and other Arabian nations. That may come. Trump has said he will not accept the current deal with Iran on its nukes. I agree it is a bad deal and Israel is also not for it. We need to make the deal better or start bombing the Iranians nuke program into non existence. That will cause a war that may be worth taking. I do not see how Iran can win it in any way or that they can disrupt oil supplies for long. A nuke armed Iran is not an option IMO. The Russians will be unhappy about this but Trump could end all US support for the groups that fight Assad in Syria and perhaps end the sanction on Russia to make it acceptable for Russia that the US destroy Irans nuclear program and perhaps also their navy and air force now that the war is on anyway and to secure the flow of oil. Plus the Russians will welcome higher oil prices for sure.

I've looked at the EIA tables fairly regular but hadn't paid attention to the crude oil + petroleum products values which are interesting in that the petroleum products volume which must include C2 to C5 amounts to about 3.5 mbp so you are closer to self sufficiency than I thought. Good on you then.

The source I usually look at is the EIA weekly supply estimates page. Here is a link to that source which says that the total "products supplied" for last week was 20.1 mbpd. http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_sum_sndw_dcus_nus_w.htm

I've always wondered whether that volume includes exports or not but the best definition I can get is that products supplied = oil consumed in US. I'm not sure how much more oil you need to achieve self sufficiency but my guess would be either 4.3 mbpd (net imports) or around 7.6 (difference between total production and products supplied).

Your expectations of how to solve the worlds problems is too depressing to discuss.

The US only needs the 4.3 mbpd net imports to become negative for oil independence. The 7.6 mbpd difference between total production and products supplied is higher than the net imports because we also use a lot of natural gas in the refinery process and the volume of final products is larger than the volume of the raw materials (crude oil) that have higher carbon content and more energy. So the US is quite close now to oil independence and this is why I think that 4 years is enough to reach it if the oil price increase to 60 USD and the Trump administration does not block the spread of driverless BEVs that Tesla can make millions of pretty soon. And each can drive like 100k miles per year so they will substitute a lot of gasoline.

It is quite depressing but no matter how I analyze the future I see a lot more war coming in the Middle East. I think it is unavoidable. Better have a big war now with conventional weapons to prevent a future one that will be with nuclear weapons. And there will be many more refugees and yes we will need to build walls everywhere to prevent these refugees from coming in and destroy our societies also. If they are unhappy with the country they want to leave they should be given no choice to stay and fight for a better future in the place where they were born even if they all die trying. The West can’t safe everyone the world is too big for that already. We can arm those group that share values with the West like the Kurds that are probably the only kind of people down there that treat women as equals for example. It is beyond me the Kurdish areas have not been recognized as an independent country by the West. They would be a real ally of the west down there because we have shared values unlike the rest of the countries in that region the west calls its allies.

A remark on the "compact" pilot plant :

to make 1kg of gazoline, you need about 0.84 kg of carbon.
This is made from CO2, thus you need 3.1 kg of CO2 (because CO2 is 27% carbon, and 73% Oxygen)

Because CO2 in the air is at 400 ppm at this moment, you need about 7750 kg of air. At a density of 1.225 kg/m3, this amounts to about 6900 m3 of air. Even with a 100% extraction rate, that's a lot of air to be swept just to extract the carbon for 1kg of gazoline.

It can be done, but it won't be "compact" I guess.

Just a nit, atmospheric CO2 is about 400 ppmv (by volume); it's thus about 600 ppm by mass.

If you have an absorber which can get half of the CO2 passing through, you'd need to process ~9200 m³ of air.  An absorber of 100 m² with a breeze blowing through at 2 m/s would get that in under a minute.

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