Sunday, November 30, 2014

Water To Gasoline Demonstrated By Sunfire

A Power-to-Liquids (PtL) demonstration rig which is the first of its kind in the world was  officially inaugurated by Dresden-based Sunfire GmbH on November 14th in the presence of German Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka, Bilfinger Board Member Pieter Koolen and a number of other high-ranking representatives from the worlds of politics, industry and research.

The rig uses sunfire’s PtL technology to transform water and CO2 to high-purity synthetic fuels (petrol, diesel, kerosene) with the aid of renewable electricity. So-called PtL fuels – also known as “e-fuels” – can be used in pure form or as an admixture in combination with conventional fuels, and are recognized as an environmentally friendly, resource-saving alternative which contributes to the fulfillment of greenhouse gas quotas.

Preparations for the commissioning of the PtL rig are currently in fully swing at Sunfire’s Gasanstaltstra├če premises. High-temperature steam electrolysis The PtL technology is built around the solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs) developed by the cleantech firm as part of the eponymous BMBF research project SUNFIRE. 

Step 1 of the PtL process sees the  SOECs used to convert electrical energy to chemical energy. Hydrogen is generated using steam rather than liquid water.

Step 2 – the reverse water-gas shift reaction – is again innovative, and involves the use of the hydrogen (H2) yielded by the steam electrolysis step to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) to carbon monoxide (CO) for the third and final step: Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis. This step sees the carbon monoxide and additional
hydrogen (in the form of renewable synthesis gas) converted to petrol, diesel, kerosene and other base products for the chemicals industry (e.g. waxes). The feeding of the heat released during synthesis back into the process ensures a high degree of system efficiency (70 percent).

Proof of technical feasibility at industrial scale The cost of building the PtL demonstration rig was within the seven-digit range, with development costs also incurred at the various consortium members. Half of the overall sum invested corresponds with the public funding received from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. 

The rig’s capacity for CO2 recycling stands at 3.2 tonnes per day, and once brought into commission it will produce up to a barrel of fuel per day. Commercialization is dependent on further technological development and regulatory factors and scheduled for 2016.

Contacts and sources:
Sunfire GmbH

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