Sunfire produces sustainable crude oil alternative

Power-to-liquid plant in Dresden for first time was operated continuously for more than 1,500 hours

Sustainable alternative to crude oil: Sunfire has produced more than three tons of the synthetic crude oil substitute ‘Blue Crude’ using green energy, CO2 and water. In order to do this, Sunfire’s power-to-liquid plant in Dresden was operated continuously for more than 1,500 hours. The industrial-scale endurance test was part of a project funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). “Our amazing team has achieved another milestone on the journey towards industrial commercialisation,” said Nils Aldag, Chief Commercial Officer at Sunfire. Almost ten tons of CO2 was used to generate the energy-rich crude oil substitute.

“Many areas in our economy are dominated by crude oil. Everyday products from sports shoes to cosmetics would be unthinkable without crude,” emphasizes Nils Aldag. “Our Blue Crude is a CO2-neutral alternative to crude oil that can be manufactured anywhere in the world using our technology. It has huge potential for the world’s decarbonisation efforts and the fight against climate change.”

Car manufacturer AUDI AG received some of the product produced by Sunfire and their tests confirmed the presence of premium properties typically found in Fischer-Tropsch products – the synthetic fuel (Audi e-diesel) has a high cetane value and therefore features excellent combustion properties. Importantly it does not contain sulphur or aromatic compounds and produces almost no soot particles during combustion.

Blue Crude for mobility and everyday products

The product has comparable properties with racing fuel, even without additional processing. “Blue Crude can be used with the existing refinery, fuelling stations and transportation infrastructure,” said Christian von Olshausen, Chief Technology Officer at Sunfire. “As such, it is the most efficient way of electrifying transport routes, long-haul traffic and air traffic and transitioning these sectors to renewable systems in the medium term.”

It remains to be seen how much of the crude oil substitute can be manufactured over the coming years. Aircraft manufactures, airlines, truck manufacturers and manufacturers of speciality chemicals have all shown commercial interest in Sunfire’s technology in recent months. Even existing rail networks that would otherwise be extremely expensive to electrify can become 100-percent renewable and CO2-neutral through a combination of reliable diesel-hybrid railcars and e-fuel.

Sector coupling with Sunfire electrolysis

In the run-up to the market launch, the green hydrogen produced by Sunfire’s electrolysis process (SOEC) currently has to be supplied to the chemicals and mobility sectors through refineries. This will start to bring these industries together with the energy sector and allow Blue Crude production facilities to be established in collaboration with industry partners.

Source: Sunfire, press release, 2017-05-29.