Business Finland invest €3.3m in Finnish e-fuel technology

Yves Le Marquand

A €3.3m funding boost from government agency Business Finland, designed to help commercialise electrofuel (e-fuel) production, brings total investment across the country to €6m.

Overseen by the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), the e-fuel research project is connected with the Neste Veturi Ecosystem. According to VTT, the market for electrolysis technology, which is key to the production of synthetic fuels, is expected to grow more than 20-fold in the next five years.

“The e-fuel project is a continuation of VTT’s persevering work in developing together with our partners clean transportation fuel solutions and technologies for the utilisation of carbon dioxide and electricity in the production of chemical products such as fuels and chemicals,” said VTT research professor Juha Lehtonen.

The two-year e-fuel research project aims to merging hydrogen production through high-temperature electrolysis using a solid oxide electrolyser cell (SOEC) with carbon dioxide sequestration and a process known as Fischer-Tropsch fuel synthesis. This would be a breakthrough for Finnish synthetic fuels technology.

Breakthrough for Finnish synthetic fuels tech

The e-fuel project is also aiming for a 10-15% improvement efficiency compared with current technologies. It hopes to achieve this by using high-temperature electrolysis technology and the developed heat integration of electrolysis, carbon dioxide sequestration and fuel synthesis.

The potential for high-temperature electrolysis in the production of e-fuels can also be improved by producing a mixed gas of hydrogen and carbon monoxide required in Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. This is done by feeding carbon dioxide and water vapour directly into an electrolyser operating at a temperature of about 700°C.

Company partners who have their own synthetic fuel projects include: Andritz, Convion, Elcogen and Neste. Neste’s project is linked with the Veturi Ecosystem for new solutions to reduce the use of crude oil. Neste’s expertise in the production and distribution of fuels should offer a commercial path for solutions that arise from e-fuel project.

Outi Ervasti, vice president, Renewable Hydrogen, Neste, said: “The e-fuel project is the first collaboration project linked with Neste’s Veturi research programme. In this programme, Neste is developing new, globally scalable solutions to reduce the use of crude oil in the production of transport fuels and chemicals and thereby to mitigate climate change. Commercialising these technologies requires long-term research as well as the creation of new value chains together with partners.

‘Carbon neutral in production by 2035’

“In the e-fuel project, several Finnish companies will collaborate to further develop the technologies needed for synthetic fuel production. This project supports us in reaching our goals of becoming carbon neutral in our production by 2035 and in developing an offering of synthetic fuels based on captured CO2 and renewable hydrogen,” said Ervasti.

Another partner, Convion is developing industrial-scale high temperature electrolysis in its own project. In its products Convion utilises SOC fuel cells manufactured in Finland by Elcogen. The technology developed in the project and its integration will be tested in cooperation with the other project partners, Neste and VTT.

“We have every possibility to create strong value chains on a foundation of deep technological expertise. This involves creating cooperative networks among technology companies, large enterprises, and research institutes. I believe that this project will help us in developing the Finnish Power-to-X companies towards international leadership,” said Erkko Fontell, CEO of Convion.

Other company partners in the E-fuel project are: AW-Energy, Helen, Carbon ReUse Finland, Kleener Power Solutions, Agco Power, ESL Shipping, Meriaura Group, ABB, and Ineratec.

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