Clariant, a global provider of specialty chemicals, has supplied a proprietary CO2-SNG (synthetic natural gas) catalyst for the methanation unit of Audi’s new power-to-gas facility in Werlte, Germany. (Earlier post.)
The “e-gas plant” was started up in June this year and is part of Audi’s sustainability initiative. The plant, which can convert six megawatts of input power, will utilize renewable electricity for electrolysis, producing oxygen and hydrogen, the latter which could one day power fuel-cell vehicles. Because there is not yet a widespread hydrogen infrastructure, however, the hydrogen is reacted with CO2 in a methanation unit to generate renewable synthetic methane, or Audi e-gas.
The e-gas plant will produce an average of 1.4 million cubic meters of renewable synthetic methane per year, chemically binding some 2,800 metric tons of CO2 and equivalent to supply 1,500 new Audi A3 Sportback g-tron vehicles with an annual mileage of 15,000 CO2 neutral kilometers. (Earlier post.)
The plant was developed, constructed and built by Stuttgart-based plant manufacturer ETOGAS GmbH (formerly SolarFuel). The technology can be also used to store surplus energy in the gas pipeline system and to balance energy supply against demand.
Clariant is one of the leading global suppliers of catalysts used in synthesis gas processes. These processes include those for the production of ammonia, methanol and hydrogen. Additionally, the company develops and offers catalysts and adsorbents for CO2 conversion and SNG technologies.
Earlier this year, Clariant announced that it has signed a long-term cooperation agreement with Wison Engineering Ltd and a subsidiary of Foster Wheeler’s Global Engineering and Construction Group to equip coal-based methanation plants based on VESTA technology in China, the world’s largest SNG market, with catalysts of Clariant.
The power-to-gas methanation technology has been under development since 2009. The Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research in Stuttgart, an R&D partner of ETOGAS and long-term cooperation partner of Clariant’s Business Unit Catalysts, initially developed the technology and successfully operated different CO2 methanation pilot plants with Clariant’s SNG catalyst.
Clariant is also part of iC4, a R&D cooperation of major participants from the chemical and energy sectors. The goal of this three-year R&D project is to develop new materials, catalysts and processes for Carbon Capture, CO2 Conversion to SNG and Carbon Cycling applications. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education.
We are proud to cooperate with AUDI/ETOGAS in this important flagship project. It is our strategic goal to increase business value through innovation and SNG is a clearly defined growth market for Clariant’s catalyst business. The new power-to-gas facility impressively demonstrates that SNG technology is an attractive solution for CO2 utilization, energy storage as well as future clean energy supply.— Hariolf Kottmann, CEO of Clariant