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TotalEnergies, Sunfire and Fraunhofer give the go-ahead for green methanol in Leuna

TotalEnergies currently produces around 700,000 tons of methanol per year based on fossil raw materials at the TotalEnergies Raffinerie Mitteldeutschland in Leuna, making it the largest methanol producer in Europe. The company is moving ahead with the e-CO2Met project (earlier post), in which it, with partners Sunfire and Fraunhofer, aims to test the combination of three innovative processes: the use of CO2 from the refinery; the use of green hydrogen produced by high-temperature electrolysis; and the subsequent green methanol synthesis on the Hy2Chem scaling platform.


TotalEnergies R&D program on Carbon Capture and Utilization is developing approaches for the economically viable reuse of CO2 which is in line with the climate ambition of the company. e-CO2Met is the first pilot project for TotalEnergies to convert CO2 with renewable electric energy to methanol. Whilst this methanol can be considered itself an e-fuel, it can importantly be used as a platform in a further upgrading to products including sustainable aviation fuels.

—Marie-Noelle Semeria, Chief Technology Officer at TotalEnergie

A core piece of e-CO2Met is the 1 MW high-temperature electrolyzer from the Dresden-based electrolysis company Sunfire. The system’s efficiency of more than 80% for producing green hydrogen from renewable electricity and water vapor is far higher than that of conventional electrolyzers. As a result, the system requires significantly less electricity to produce one kilogram of hydrogen.

In the next step, the green hydrogen obtained from electrolysis and highly concentrated CO2 from the refinery's production processes will be converted into green methanol. For this purpose, the Fraunhofer CBP and TotalEnergies are planning a pilot plant in the new Fraunhofer Hydrogen Lab at the Leuna Chemical Park.

The pilot plant is the first project of the Hy2Chem scaling platform funded by the state of Saxony-Anhalt through EFRE funds.

With the Hy2Chem platform, we can test the use of regeneratively produced hydrogen for the production of feedstock chemicals and fuels in sustainable synthesis processes on a large scale for the first time—even under the conditions of a fluctuating hydrogen stream.

—group leader Dr Ulrike Junghans, who is coordinating the project at the CBP

A crucial step for implementing these processes on an industrial scale is pushing the development of electrolyzers and synthetic processes. For this purpose, Fraunhofer IMWS operates the Hydrogen Lab Leuna, a test infrastructure on an industrial scale, and provides extensive scientific support. The Hydrogen Lab simulates different load profiles typical of renewable energy supply, maps their diurnal and inter-seasonal fluctuations and thus provides important findings for the design and cost estimation of the systems under realistic conditions.

The Hydrogen Lab Leuna is the first large-scale test facility in Germany that is fully integrated with the infrastructure of the chemical industry, making it ideal for projects in the field of power-to-X processes. We can test industrial electrolyzers of any type at the systems level, further develop them together with our industry partners and at the same time gain valuable experience in supplying hydrogen to the pipeline system of our partner Linde—currently up to a 5 MW scale.

—Dr. Moritz Kühnel, who coordinates the electrolysis research activities at Fraunhofer IMWS



CO2 from the refinery
Reuse Co2 to reduced emissions

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