June 12, 2017

Finnish demo plant turns CO2 into fuel

Cyril Bajamundi, research scientist from VTT, is involved in the project.
Cyril Bajamundi, research scientist from VTT, is involved in the project.

Soletair demo plant, developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), produces renewable fuels and chemicals using carbon dioxide.

The goal of the project is to demonstrate the technical performance of the overall process and produce 200 litres of fuels and other hydrocarbons for research purposes. In the one-of-a-kind demo plant the entire process chain, from solar power generation to hydrocarbon production, is in the same place.

The demo plant comprises four units: a solar power plant, equipment for separating carbon dioxide and water from the air, a section that uses electrolysis to produce hydrogen and synthesis equipment for producing a crude-oil substitute from carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

“The concept we are exploring is an example of how the chemical industry could be electrified in the future,” says professor Jero Ahola from LUT. “The burning of fossil fuels must end by 2050, but people will continue to need some hydrocarbons.”

VTT and LUT will test the Soletair demo plant in until September. After the piloting phase, synthesis units will be used in a number of EU projects over the coming years.

“The result will be multi-sectoral industrial integration,” notes principal scientist and the director of the project Pekka Simell from VTT. “Finnish industry’s expertise in this area is being reinforced by collaboration.”

New business opportunities will arise for chemical companies as well as those benefiting from the carbon circular economy or surplus electricity.

VTT and LUT have invested a million euros in the equipment. The project is funded by Tekes and a number of companies.