The CirclEnergy project aims to reduce society’s dependency in fossil fuels by facilitating the expansion of CRI’s innovative Emissions-to-Liquids (ETL) technology.
In capturing industrial emissions and converting into green fuels and chemicals, CRI’s ETL platform is a key enabling technology for a transition to a circular economy in which maximum value is extracted from each carbon molecule. The same process has the potential to address key challenges to the integration of renewable energy sources into power systems and support energy transition in transport. The projects aims to achieve the following objectives:
renewable fuel production
Carbon Capture and Utilisation
More than 90% of global energy consumption is derived from the combustion of coal, oil and gas. A consequence of burning such quantities of fossil fuels is the emission of about 100 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each day. To compound the problem, activities such as deforestation decrease the availability of natural CO2 sinks and prevent the re-uptake of the CO2. To try to avert the risk of runaway global warming, catastrophic sea-level rise and a collapse of the marine ecosystem, experts attest that by mid-century fossil fuel derived energy needs to be replaced by renewable energy. It is generally felt that to ensure its continued existence on Earth, it is vital for humanity to collectively progress beyond fossil fuel dependency and employ all means possible to mitigate the effects of CO2 in industries where fossil input remains necessary.
The ETL technology offers an alternative pathway for reduction of CO2 waste in energy dependent industries with minimal environmental impact while simultaneously reducing dependency on fossil fuels. In its process, inevitable CO2 industrial emissions are captured, purified and reacted with hydrogen produced through water electrolysis, to generate methanol. Hydrogen may also be processed from by-product streams of industries that produce more than they consume in some cases. The reacton takes place over a well-known copper/zinc oxide catalyst system. The methanol is produced in an aqueous mixture and subsequently distilled 99.5% w/w.
A key challenge to renewable power integration is the inherently intermittent nature of wind and solar power, as generation from these sources cannot be fully controlled. Emphasis has been placed on applying process technologies which can meet these natural fluctuations, shedding load during hours of excess demand and ramp up during hours of excess supply. In the absence of adequate storage technologies, significant resources are under-utilised or untapped as transmission networks are ill-equipped to accommodate a flexible energy stream.
The ETL technology can be employed to further integrate renewables into the European power network by adsorbing surplus renewable electricity at a low cost, converting it into methanol which can be safely stored and transported with existing distribution infrastructure. By enabling power generators to manage energy supply, over-investment in excess production capacity and high-voltage transmission lines can be minimised.
The ETL technology’s combination of water electrolysis and methanol production constitutes a highly efficient method of storing energy in the form of liquid fuel and offers desired load following capability to the grid.
Methanol is a large platform clean fuel and chemical with multiple applications. Chemically identical to fossil methanol, renewable methanol can be substituted for any traditional methanol application and thus represents a low-carbon fuel and feedstock for synthetic materials. The ETL technology enables production of renewable methanol, a carbon neutral fuel which has the potential to eliminate toxic air pollution, such as nitrogen and sulphur compounds as well as particular matter.
A highly convenient transport fuel, methanol is a clean burning, high octane fuel which offers a more efficient combustion than gasoline or diesel. It can be splash-blended with gasoline to significantly improve engine performance and vehicle carbon footprint. Vulcanol can be used directly in internal combustion engines with merely minor modifications, in fuel cells, turbines or boilers. It can be used for gasoline blending and production of fossil fuel components or biodiesel. It is also an optimal marine fuel, emitting low levels of NOx emissions, no SOx emissions and no particulate matter when combusted.
Methanol is a key raw material for numerous chemical derivatives and consumer products. Used for production of chemical feedstock such as formaldehyde and acetic acid and solvents, it has become integral to countless every-day products. Increasingly, methanol is also used to produce light olefins, which are the backbone of the production of most synthetic materials.
As a versatile, clean-burning fuel and chemical, renewable methanol could replace all forms of fossil transport fuels used today and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of every-day life.
At its core, the ETL technology utilizes CO2 and hydrogen as raw materials to produce green methanol, an advanced fuel and more sustainable substitute for fossil-based methanol, providing both economic and environmental benefits in industrial manufacturing and power generation.
Sustainability is integral to the ETL technology. ETL production plants require no arable land, cause no greenhouse gas emissions and form no toxic by-products.
Scalability is a key ETL feature. Plant designs can be tailored to reflect feedstock availability of various applications, encompassing within their scope industrial manufacturing of different calibres.
Operational flexibility allows the ETL system to work with fluctuating electricity supply and heterogeneous feedstock sources.
Inherent profitability, based on proven upstream costs and market prices supported by global trends, is attainable to ETL adaptors.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon
2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 848757