A two-year Finnish electrofuels (E-fuel) research project aims to integrate hydrogen production through high-temperature electrolysis using a solid oxide electrolyzer cell (SOEC) with carbon dioxide sequestration and Fischer-Tropsch fuel synthesis.
Coordinated by VTT, the E-fuel research project, which is connected with the Neste Veturi Ecosystem, received €3.3 million in funding from Business Finland in January. The development work is also augmented by a group of companies of which some have their own parallel Business-Finland-funded projects. Altogether, €6 million is invested in the development of the production of e-fuels in Finland.
The E-fuel project is targeting an efficiency improvement by 10-15 percentage points compared to the efficiency of current technologies in the production of e-fuels by utilizing innovative high-temperature electrolysis technology and the developed heat integration of electrolysis, carbon dioxide sequestration and fuel synthesis.
The potential for high-temperature electrolysis in the production of e-fuels is also improved by the possibility to produce a mixed gas of hydrogen and carbon monoxide required in Fischer-Tropsch synthesis by feeding carbon dioxide and water vapour directly into an electrolyser operating at a temperature of about 700°C.
The aim of the project is to boost both the synthesis concept of e-fuels and the commercial readiness of high-temperature electrolyzers closer to electrolyzer technologies based on low temperatures.
Company partners who have their own research projects include Andritz, Convion, Elcogen and Neste. Neste’s project is linked with the Veturi ecosystem for new solutions for reducing the use of crude oil. Neste’s globally expertise in the production and distribution of liquid fuels based on renewable raw materials offers a commercial path for solutions that can be developed in the E-fuel project.
The E-fuel project is the first collaboration project linked with Neste’s Veturi research program. In this program, Neste is developing new, globally scalable solutions to reduce the use of crude oil in the production of transport fuels and chemicals, and thereby to mitigate climate change. Commercializing these technologies requires long-term research as well as the creation of new value chains together with partners.
In the E-fuel project, several Finnish companies will collaborate to further develop the technologies needed for synthetic fuel production. This project supports us in reaching our goals of becoming carbon neutral in our production by 2035 and in developing an offering of synthetic fuels based on captured CO2 and renewable hydrogen.—Outi Ervasti, Vice President, Renewable Hydrogen and PtX at Neste
Of the project partners, Convion is developing industrial-scale high temperature electrolysis in its own parallel project. Convion’s competence in fuel cell technology also provides an excellent foundation for the development and commercialization of an electrolyzer suitable for the production of hydrogen. In its products Convion utilises SOC fuel cells manufactured in Finland by Elcogen, which are world-leaders in efficiency. The technology developed in the project and its integration will be tested in cooperation with the other project partners, Neste and VTT.
Other company partners in the E-fuel research project are AW-Energy, Helen, Carbon ReUse Finland, Kleener Power Solutions, Agco Power, ESL Shipping, Meriaura Group, ABB, and Ineratec. The consortium covers all parties in the value chain from sequestration of gases to electricity and fuel production, logistics, as well as users of the transport fuels in off-road and marine transport.
VTT’s E-fuel is a research project funded jointly by Business Finland, VTT, and the participating company partners, with the goal of establishing readiness for scaling up the technology being developed to a production scale level after the project. The project is public, and a part of the Green E2 Ecosystem funded by Business Finland and administered by Clic Innovation, and continuation for VTT’s power-to-X research, for example the BECCU project launched in 2020. The E-fuel project is also linked into Green Electrification 2035-Veturi programme initiated by ABB.