VTT, Neste and their partners seek breakthrough in Finnish e-fuel technology

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Press release 8 February 2021

The commercialisation of the electrofuel (e-fuel) production using sustainable electricity and sequestered carbon dioxide got a boost in January from EUR 3.3 million in funding from Business Finland. Coordinated by VTT, the E-fuel research project is connected with the Neste Veturi Ecosystem. The development work is also augmented by a group of companies of which some have their own parallel Business Finland funded projects. Altogether, EUR 6 million is invested in the development of the production of fuels in Finland.

Global emissions from transportation sector currently cover about 15% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. The market for synthetic fuels that has emerged in the wake of an acute need to reduce emissions is expected to grow to millions of tons by 2030 in Europe alone. The market for electrolysis technology, which is a key to the production of synthetic fuels, is expected to grow more than 20-fold in the coming five years. The production of e-fuels is often referred to by the names power-to-liquids (PtL) or power-to-X (PtX).

The two-year E-fuel research project aims at developing integration of hydrogen production through high-temperature electrolysis using a solid oxide electrolyzer cell (SOEC) with carbon dioxide sequestration and Fischer-Tropsch fuel synthesis, aiming at a breakthrough for Finnish technology on the growing world market for synthetic fuels.

The E-fuel project aims at an efficiency improvement by 10-15 percentage points compared to the efficiency of current technologies in the production of e-fuels by utilising 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 electrolysers closer to electrolyser technologies based on low temperatures.

“The E-fuel project is a continuation of VTT's persevering work in developing together with our partners clean transportation fuel solutions and technologies for the utilisation of carbon dioxide and electricity in the production of chemical products such as fuels and chemicals”, says VTT Research Professor Juha Lehtonen.

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 programme. In this programme, 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”, says Outi Ervasti, Vice President, Renewable Hydrogen and PtX at Neste.

“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”, Ervasti states.

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 electrolyser 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.

”Finland has a good opportunity to establish a strong position on the Power to X market. We have every possibility to create strong value chains on a foundation of deep technological expertise. This involves creating cooperative networks among technology companies, large enterprises, and research institutes. I believe that this project will help us in developing the Finnish Power-to-X companies towards international leadership”, says Erkko Fontell, CEO of Convion.

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. E-fuel project is also linked into Green Electrification 2035-Veturi programme initiated by ABB.

Further information

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd
Research Professor Juha Lehtonen
juha.lehtonen@vtt.fi, tel. +358 50 4071075

Outi Ervasti, Vice President, Renewable Hydrogen and PtX
outi.ervasti@neste.com, tel. +358 50 4589741

CEO Erkko Fontell
erkko.fontell@convion.fi, tel. +358 407544389

Neste (NESTE, Nasdaq Helsinki) creates solutions for combating climate change and accelerating a shift to a circular economy. We refine waste, residues and innovative raw materials into renewable fuels and sustainable feedstock for plastics and other materials. We are the world’s leading producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel, developing chemical recycling to combat the plastic waste challenge. We aim at helping customers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with our renewable and circular solutions by at least 20 million tons annually by 2030. As a technologically advanced refiner of high-quality oil products with a commitment to reach carbon-neutral production by 2035, we are also introducing renewable and recycled raw materials such as waste plastic as refinery raw materials. We have consistently been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices and the Global 100 list of the world’s most sustainable companies. In 2019, Neste's revenue stood at EUR 15.8 billion, with 82% of the company’s comparable operating profit coming from renewable products. Read more: neste.com

Convion is one of the leading technology companies developing fuel cell systems based on solid oxide cell technology (SOC). We commercialize products for highly efficient distributed co-generation and green hydrogen production by electrolysis. SOC technology is unique in its ability to facilitate ultra clean gas-to-power and power-to-gas conversion at uncontested efficiency in a manner scalable to industrial scale. Zero emission distributed power generation and hydrogen production by electrolysis are key technologies facilitating transition of energy markets to carbon neutrality. Established in 2012, Convion and its partners form a solid technological foundation for Power-to-Gas and Gas-to-Power value chains in Finland. Read more at https://convion.fi

Elcogen (est 2001) is an Estonian/Finnish cleantech company developing and manufacturing highest performing and the world’s most efficient SOC technology for residential, commercial and industrial applications. Elcogen enables its partners to deliver power production and power storage solutions to mass market addressing zero emission as well as hydrogen society challenges. Elcogen was awarded Innovation award by European Business Awards 2019/2020. Company supplies more than 60 commercial customers worldwide and aims to become world’s leading producer of commercial SOFC /SOEC cells and stacks.

ANDRITZ Oy is a leading global supplier of systems, equipment and services for the pulp and paper industry including wood processing, fiber processing, chemical recovery, and stock preparation. In addition, ANDRITZ Oy offers biomass boilers and gasification plants for energy production. ANDRITZ Hydro Oy, located in Tampere, delivers systems, equipment, and services for hydraulic power generation. The number of employees of ANDRITZ companies in Finland is approximately 1 400. The Center of Excellence are Kerava, Kotka, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Savonlinna, Vantaa, Varkaus, and Tampere. The Headquarters are located in Helsinki, Finland. The company is owned by ANDRITZ AG of Austria.

ABB is a leading global technology company that energizes the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. By connecting software to its electrification, robotics, automation and motion portfolio, ABB pushes the boundaries of technology to drive performance to new levels. With a history of excellence stretching back more than 130 years, ABB’s success is driven by about 110,000 talented employees in over 100 countries.

CarbonReUse Finland
CarbonReUse Finland Oy is specialized in Carbon Capture. In 2009 this development work was started and in 2014 the company was found. The method used was to not use any chemicals, only water thus it is especially clean. Captured Carbon Dioxide is thus clean and no emissions to the nature is generated. The process is also economical because Carbon Dioxide is not bound chemically so no energy is needed for regeneration. The company is having four own patents and sole right to one Post-Desorber patent of XAMK. The company is having three products namely Top Capture®, Heavy Capture and Power Capture. These are all designed to individual Carbon Dioxide densities. For instance, Power Capture is optimized to flue gases of power plants. Product gas Carbon Dioxide is concentrated to 95 – 98 % with the processes of the company. All lines are having a good automation so in normal use no supervision is needed. The lines are also equipped with remote control.

AW-Energy Oy is a pioneer in the green economy and a global leader in wave energy technology, which provides significant added value to the production of Green Hydrogen and in the transition to cleaner and more sustainable renewable energy provision.
Its flagship product, WaveRoller®, is the world’s first certified and demonstrated commercial
scale wave energy converter unit that is submerged near-shore and works on the principle of an innovative hinged panel that is attached to the seabed. It generates electricity from the movement of the waves (surge phenomenon) and is installed close to shore to support and compliment onshore renewable energy generation with local, regional or national power grid connections. AW-Energy Oy is the global leader in wave energy technology and is based in Finland and operates in multiple continents. Discover more at www.aw-energy.com. Follow us on Twitter @WRoller.

Helen Ltd helps to make everyday life a little easier for over 550,000 customers in Finland. In addition to heat, cooling and electricity, we offer solutions for regional and renewable energy, smart buildings and electric transport. We are developing a smarter, carbon-neutral energy system that enables everyone to produce, use and save energy with respect for the environment. We aim to achieve 100% carbon neutrality in our energy production by 2035. Let’s join forces and turn the opportunities of a new energy era into reality.

Kleener is a technology company that develops ash handling and CO2 recovery equipment. Kleener liquid is produced in an ash handling system and is used for CO2 recovery and as a fertilizer raw material. As a result of over 23 years research work, Kleener has achieved linked innovations which simultaneously solve expensive problems in two areas – biomass power plant ash handling and cost-efficient CO2 recovery from flue gases, which consequently will accelerate Power-To-X (P2X) concepts to drastically reduce CO2 emissions.

AGCO Power
AGCO POWER has been the trusted engine from generation to generation, for over 70 years. We help many of the world’s leading tractor and farm machinery brands deliver extreme performance, even in the toughest conditions. Our passion is the key in developing industry leading engine and power generation solutions that are known for durability and long life spans. Wherever your equipment happens to be, AGCO’s service network is there to support your operation. Power is our business.

Meriaura Group
VG-Shipping, part of family-owned Meriaura Group, is a Finnish shipping company located in Turku. The group of companies focuses on shipping and shipping related services, with a cargo volume 3,0 M tons annually, that equals 3 % of total volumes of Finnish foreign trade sea transportation. Our mission is to provide solution-oriented transport service to our partners in special and project cargoes, products of bio-, circular economy and agribulk, and offer complete solutions for logistic chains as well as ship management services. Our business is based on environmental values and the development of environmentally friendly measures in operations through choices and innovation. Our vision is to be the leading forerunner in environmentally friendly, innovative and solution-oriented maritime transport and ship management services. We aim at developing a carbon-neutral energy solution as part of a carbon-neutral logistic chain.

ESL Shipping
ESL Shipping Ltd is the leading carrier of dry bulk cargoes in the Baltic region. ESL Shipping’s competitive edge is based on its ability to secure product and raw material transportation for industries and energy production all year around, even in difficult weather conditions. The shipping company loads and unloads large ocean liners at sea as a special service. ESL Shipping Ltd has been in business over 70 years and is a subsidiary of Aspo Plc. ESL Shipping’s subsidiary AtoB@C Shipping has currently 31 vessels in 4,000-6,000 dwt segments in its fleet. The combined fleet of ESL Shipping and AtoB@C Shipping consists of 51 vessels with cargo capacity ranging from 3,000 to 56,000 dwt.

IC provides modular chemical plants for Power-to-X and Gas-to-Liquid applications and supplies sustainable fuels and products. Hydrogen from renewable electricity and greenhouse gases like CO2 are converted into e-kerosene, CO2-neutral gasoline, clean Diesel or synthetic waxes, methanol or SNG. The innovative reactors provide a high load flexibility as well as quick start-up and shut-down times. Therefore, the reactors are perfectly suitable for fluctuating renewable energy applications, e.g. wind or solar. Additionally, with this reactor concept a cost-efficient, modular numbering-up approach instead of a risky technology scale-up becomes possible, meaning that standardized modules are multiplied to reach higher capacities instead of a traditional scale-up. 

Further information on VTT:
Paula Bergqvist

Senior Specialist, Communications
+358 20 722 5161, paula.bergqvist@vtt.fi

VTT is a visionary research, development and innovation partner. We drive sustainable growth and tackle the biggest global challenges of our time, and turn them into growth opportunities. We go beyond the obvious to help the society and companies to grow through technological innovations. We have almost 80 years of experience of top-level research and science-based results. VTT is at the sweet spot where innovation and business come together.

VTT – beyond the obvious

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