Power-to-liquids technologies are on their way to commercialisation in scale and production of synthetic e-fuels is no longer science fiction. E-fuels offer a way to expand the carbon-neutral transport fuel pool beyond biomass-based renewable fuels to replace fossil fuels in existing internal combustion engines. The end product is a transportation fuel suited for aircraft, ships and heavy road vehicles.
Development of high temperature electrolysis, CO2 capture, and hydrocarbon synthesis technologies have been completed in Business Finland funded Veturi E-fuel research project and the integrated technology is now ready for implementation. VTT and Neste have agreed to build a technology demonstration facility at VTT Bioruukki Pilot Centre, Espoo. The work has started by first modifications to the research infrastructure at VTT Bioruukki. During 2022 and early 2023, electrolysis, CO2 capture, and synthesis units located in sea containers will be connected to each other and VTT Bioruukki research infrastructure. The E-fuel project pilot runs are expected to be completed during 2023. Establishing the infrastructure for power-to-liquids production contributes to the strengthening of co-operation between Neste and VTT in e-fuel production development from pilot to commercial scale.
“There is a high need for sustainable fuels for such sectors of transport where electric vehicles are not a realistic option for a long time. Especially in aviation, high quality e-fuels being compatible with current fossil jet fuels are very attractive alternative to support the actions to reach carbon neutrality. Our aim is to develop more efficient e-fuel production technologies to be commercialized in near future”, says VTT's Research Professor Juha Lehtonen.
The technology demonstration will employ CO2 capture from flue gas, hydrogen production by highly efficient high-temperature electrolysis and fuel synthesis based on the Fischer-Tropsch technology. Both the CO2 capture and electrolysis solutions are provided by Finnish project partners, Kleener Power Solutions Oy and Carbonreuse Finland Oy as well as Convion Oy and Elcogen Oy, respectively. VTT will provide the fuel synthesis unit and technology and Neste carries out upgrading of the synthetic crude oil into fuel products fulfilling the specifications. Neste is expecting to see a successful integrated demonstration of technologies and to receive at least 300 kg of synthetic crude oil for synthetic fuel processing development.
Neste is actively building technology solutions and business to realize commercial production of sustainable e-fuels. Neste started this Innovation Business Platform 2019 as part of its efforts aiming towards commercialization of Power-to-X strategy for synthetic e-fuel and e-Feedstock production. Such pilot projects support competence development at Neste as well as more broadly and offer a venue for focused process development and R&D in key technology areas relevant to “Power-to-X” commercialisation.
“Sustainable synthetic fuels like e-fuels in combination with electric vehicles have the potential to substitute more than 50% of crude oil in transportation sector by 2040. Power-to-X is one technology pathway, which has the potential to unlock new raw material pools beyond biomass with innovation to accelerate emission reduction in transportation”, says Dietmar Huber, Vice President Innovation Business Platform Power-to-X at Neste.