The SOLETAIR project (earlier post) has produced its first 200 liters of synthetic fuel from solar energy and the air’s carbon dioxide via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. Project partners include INERATEC, a spinoff of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT).
The mobile chemical pilot plant produces gasoline, diesel, and kerosene from regenerative hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The compact plant is designed for decentralized production, fits into a shipping container, and can be extended modularly.
The SOLETAIR project started in 2016. This summer, a decentralized plant network consisting of three main components was established.
The “Direct Air Capture” Unit developed by the Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT) captures carbon dioxide from air.
An electrolysis unit developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) uses solar power to produce the required hydrogen. Afterwards, carbon dioxide and hydrogen are first converted into reactive synthesis gas at high temperature and then into liquid fuels in a microstructured chemical reactor.
This reactor, the core of the plant, was developed by KIT and extended to a compact plant commercialized by INERATEC.
For the first time, the complete process from photovoltaics and capturing carbon dioxide from air to fuel synthesis has been set up to demonstrate its technical feasibility.
The pilot plant has a production capacity of up to 80 liters of gasoline per day. In the first campaign now completed, about 200 l of fuel were produced in several phases to study the optimum synthesis process, possibilities of using the heat produced, and product properties.
In June 2017, the plant network was opened officially by Jamie Hyneman, co-host of the “MythBusters” science television series.
The SOLETAIR project will expire in mid-2018 and is funded with EUR 1 million by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes). Information obtained in the course of the project will be used for the commercialization of the technology.