Brazil: sustainable fuel for aviation
The Fraunhofer experts in Dresden have launched another project together with partners in South America: the Brazilians are looking for ways to break away from fossil dependencies and synthesize aviation fuels in an environmentally friendly way. At a workshop in Dresden, they came across IKTS and asked for a practicable solution. Again, the Fraunhofer researchers are initially building a lab-scale co-electrolysis chain designed for on-site experiments in Brazil. The goal is to build an entire chain in the region that at first generates synthesis gas from green electricity, water and CO2 and ultimately refines it into e-kerosene for South American air traffic. “In this respect, our joint project is helping to build sustainable know-how in Brazil,” emphasizes Matthias Jahn.
EU, South Africa and Australia
And further projects are already underway. These include the EU joint project Advanced Materials and Reactors for ENergy storage tHrough Ammonia (ARENHA), which is advancing the use of synthetic ammonia as an energy carrier. Meanwhile, in the industry consortium Catalyst Research for Sustainable Kerosene (Care-o-Sene), IKTS is supporting the development of next-generation Fischer-Tropsch catalysts together with partners from Germany and South Africa. In the future, they will be used to synthesize the feedstock for sustainable aviation fuels on a large scale in order to gradually replace fossil kerosene. Similar projects are also underway with partners from Australia.
From the laboratory to industrial scale
“In addition to research institutes, more and more international industrial companies are working on such collaborative projects for high-temperature electrolyzers and are interested in coupling them with modern synthesis reactors,” Jahn and Kusnezoff emphasize. Both scientists see this as a clear indication that mass markets are developing worldwide in this field. This opens up completely new business areas and market opportunities, not least for German SMEs with their plant engineering expertise.
It is true that larger electrolyzers based on the older functional principles of alkaline and PEM electrolysis are already available on the world markets. But the far more efficient high-temperature electrolyzers have so far only been available for low output classes and in small quantities. However, high-temperature electrolyzers in the megawatt class will be needed in the next few years if Germany, the EU and other countries and associations of countries are to achieve their ambitious goals for environmental protection and the development of a potent hydrogen economy.
Toolbox instead of black box
It is anything but trivial to link the new systems into complex synthesis chains. One challenge is to predict the functionality and parameters of such chains already in the development stage in order to avoid expensive bad investments. Fraunhofer IKTS has accumulated special expertise for this purpose. This extends to the automation of the entire process as well as the electrolyzer production. The key factor is that the scientists in Dresden have a technological command of the entire value chain, from the material to the highly automated process. Therefore, they are able to develop highly efficient solutions for and with industry like hardly any other player. This is why Fraunhofer IKTS is repeatedly in demand as a partner in the development of modern and sustainable high-temperature processes.
Billion euro market expected
Not only the Fraunhofer experts are convinced that high-temperature hydrogen technology and synthesis chains linked to it will play a growing role in the coming decades. The British market research company IDTechEx, for example, expects the market for high-temperature fuel cells to grow to a volume of 6.8 billion dollars over the next ten years. They also forecast high growth rates for ceramic electrolyzers.