🇫🇮 Synthetic fuel production is being piloted at Bioruukki

April 21, 2023

Press release from BotH2nia

Synthetic fuel production is being piloted at Bioruukki
Juha Lehtonen, Research Professor at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, presents the equipment containers brought to the yard of VTT Bioruukki Pilot Centre. The electrolyser module next to the containers produces hydrogen.

Juha Lehtonen, Research Professor at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, presents the equipment containers brought to the yard of VTT Bioruukki Pilot Centre. The electrolyser module next to the containers produces hydrogen. Nearby, another container has equipment for converting carbon dioxide into various liquid hydrocarbons, which are later used to produce diesel or jet fuel, for example.

”We will soon receive another container with equipment to capture carbon dioxide from the flue gases of the Bioruukki steam generator. When the equipment in all the containers works together, the carbon from the carbon dioxide is combined with hydrogen through various stages of the process. This creates a complete production chain for the production of synthetic fuels,” says Lehtonen.

Even more equipment can be found inside the pilot halls that are used at various stages in the production of hydrogen and hydrogen products. For example, they will be used to produce synthesis gas, mainly containing hydrogen and carbon monoxide, by gasification of biomass. Synthesis gas produced from biomass can also be used to produce synthetic fuels.

Bioruukki to become a major hydrogen technology hub

VTT Bioruukki in Kivenlahti, Espoo, is growing and rapidly becoming VTT’s main research centre for hydrogen. It is a piloting centre and innovation platform where hydrogen and P2X technologies are developed in collaboration with companies. Pilot plants allow companies to take ideas from laboratory experiments and test them in a environment close to real production environment.

“Here we work with companies of all sizes. Both corporate giants and start-ups across the entire zero-emission hydrogen value chain can develop hydrogen expertise here. Among the growth companies in the hydrogen sector, we have worked e.g. with Solar Foods and Soletair Power, for example,” Lehtonen says.

Part of a major E-fuel research project

The production of synthetic fuels, or electrofuels, in the Bioruukki yard is part of the E-fuel research project funded by Business Finland to the tune of €3.3 million. The project, coordinated by VTT, is part of Neste’s Veturi ecosystem funding. In addition, the development work is augmented by several companies, some of which have their own parallel company projects. In total, more than €6 million is invested in the development of the production of electric fuels.

Convion’s name appears on the side of the electrolyser module. Inside, there is a solid oxide electrolysis system that produces hydrogen from water vapour using electricity. If required, the system can also operate as a reverse fuel cell, turning hydrogen into electricity. The two-way electrolysis cell is called a reversible solid oxide cell (rSOC). (Read more about Elcogen’s cell here)

The company that commercialises fuel cell systems is one of the companies involved in the E-fuel project. The product supplied to the project is the first high-temperature solid oxide electrolysis system supplied by Convion.

SOE technology is being develop at Bioruukki

The E-fuel project aims to increase the efficiency of electric fuel production by 10–15 percentages by utilising high-efficiency solid oxide electrolysis (SOE) technology and developed heat integration of electrolysis, carbon dioxide capture and fuel synthesis.

The use of high-temperature electrolysis in the production of e-fuels is also enhanced by the possibility to produce syngas (mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide) required in Fischer–Tropsch synthesis by feeding carbon dioxide and water vapour directly into an electrolyser operating at around 700 °C.

In addition to the synthesis concept of electrofuels, the project aims to bring the commercial readiness of the high-temperature electrolyser closer to the low-temperature technologies already commercially available.

Work at Bioruukki helps the participants in the hydrogen market

The experiments at Bioruukki will help Convion move forward in the hydrogen market.

“For Convion, a key benefit of the project is the value chain where Convion’s product can be tested and demonstrated. The Finnish project and reference will support the further development and commercialisation of the product. The BalticSeaH2 project and our new cooperation with Shell are good examples of this,” says Erkko Fontell, CEO of Convion.

The hydrogen production will be scaled up by combining modules. The module in the Bioruukki yard has a capacity of 249 kilowatts, although it is currently run at partial power. Shell wants a total hydrogen production capacity of one megawatt for its demonstration site in Amsterdam, so Convion will supply four modules similar to the one at Bioruukki, and the four systems will be used together.

You can visit Bioruukki in Espoo and learn more about P2X technology trials by attending the BotH2nia goes Helsinki event on 1–2 June. 

Originally published on 19 April.

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