Södra participates in electro-fuels research project
As part of its long-term innovation activities with energy and sustainability, Södra has taken part in a research project run by RISE. The results show that under the right conditions, the Swedish pulp and paper, and chemistry industries could take a more active role in tomorrow’s power market by producing electro-fuels.
“We see this as a knowledge-building project for the future and are following developments in this area with interest. There are major advantages to be gained by reusing CO₂ in products rather than capturing and storing it (Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS). Re-use creates a circular flow, and that is exactly what electro-fuels do,” said Catrin Gustavsson, Head of Innovation and New Business.
RISE is the Swedish Research Institute and an innovation partner for industry, academia and the public sector. Nouryon and BillerudKorsnäs are also involved in the project. Electrofuels are produced by carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) processes. CO₂ is captured and treated with hydrogen gas to produce fuels, for example. Electricity is used to split the water into oxygen and hydrogen gas (electrolysis). For the electrolysis, future excess electricity could be utilised when renewable generation, especially wind power, produces so much electricity for the system that the price of electricity is low.
“So the nice thing about electro-fuels would therefore be that you could actually store excess electricity in the form of fuel while re-using the CO₂ one more time,” said Sven Hermansson, Research Co-ordinator, Innovation and New Business.
Electro-fuels are a generic term for synthetic fuels produced from electricity and water by electrolysis into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can either be used directly as a fuel or raw material for industrial processes. It is also possible to let the hydrogen react into other products such as methane and/or methanol via reactions with carbon dioxide from flue gases. In cases where the electricity for the water electrolysis and the carbon dioxide to build hydrocarbons is of renewable origin, renewable substances are formed that replace fossil fuels and chemicals. The interest in electro-fuels has grown rapidly in recent years, and today there are more than 40 demonstration and pilot plants in operation or under construction in Europe. So far, there is no facility on site in Sweden.