Power-To-X: Sunfire reports successful test run of co-electrolysis system of >500 hours; e-Crude demo targeted
Sunfire GmbH reports the successful start-up and test run (> 500 hours) of a high-temperature co-electrolysis system at its Dresden site, beginning in November 2018. SUNFIRE-SYNLINK—a co-electrolyzer based on solid oxide cell (SOC) technology—enables the highly efficient production (a projected ~80% efficiency on an industrial scale) of synthesis gas in a single step using water, CO2 and green electricity.
Co-electrolysis reduces H2O and CO2 simultaneously; this significantly reduces the investment and operating costs for Power-to-X projects such as e-Crude and e-fuels.
Sunfire achieved the technological breakthrough within the framework of the Kopernikus project Power-to-X (03SFK2Q0), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), in conjunction with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).
The successfully running co-electrolysis plant (10 kilowatts DC, up to 4 Nm³/h synthesis gas) will be delivered to Karlsruhe in the next few weeks, where it will be combined with technologies from Climeworks (Direct Air Capture), INERATEC (Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis) and KIT (Hydrocracking) in a container to produce a self-sufficient facility.
The aim is to demonstrate the integrated production of e-Crude, a synthetic crude oil substitute, by the end of August 2019—the first in a 2-step process of this magnitude made possible by co-electrolysis.
Furthermore, on 1 January, Sunfire began the process of scaling-up the high-temperature co-electrolysis process to an industrial scale—initially with an input power of 150 kilowatts (DC)—as part of the “SynLink” project (03EIV031A) funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy.
This multipliable co-electrolysis module is to be used by Nordic Blue Crude, the Norwegian project partner. The first commercial plant is to be built there and will produce 10 million liters or 8,000 tonnes of the synthetic crude oil substitute e-Crude annually on the basis of 20 megawatts of input power.
Background: high temperature co-electrolysis. In previous power-to-liquids processes, two separate process steps were used to break water vapor down into its components—hydrogen and oxygen (electrolysis)—and to turn carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide (reverse water-gas-shift reaction).
With Sunfire’s co-electrolysis, hydrogen and carbon monoxide can be recovered in a single process step, significantly improving the efficiency of the overall process and lowering investment (CAPEX) and operating costs (OPEX).
In addition, the single-stage SUNFIRE-SYNLINK technology noticeably reduces the amount of space required.
The global demand for electrolysis technologies to produce green, renewable hydrogen is estimated at more than 3,000 gigawatts. Furthermore, many sectors, such as long-distance road transport, air or sea transport, require alternatives to fossil diesel and kerosene, which e-fuels can provide, thanks to their excellent transportability through existing infrastructures.
In addition to the production of fuels, synthesis gas attracts customers from a wide range of industries, such as the chemical industry, plastics production or the cosmetics sector.
Sunfire recently acquired a new lead investor and technology partner in Paul Wurth, a leading global mechanical and plant engineering company for the metals industry. The investment round, which involved former investors, yielded an additional €25 million in capital. Sunfire will use the money to implement commercial multi-megawatt electrolysis and Power-to-X projects.
Yun Zheng, Jianchen Wang, Bo Yu, Wenqiang Zhang, Jing Chen, Jinli Qiao and Jiujun Zhang (2017) “A review of high temperature co-electrolysis of H2O and CO2 to produce sustainable fuels using solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs): advanced materials and technology,” Chemical Society Reviews doi: 10.1039/C6CS00403B