Energy Process Engineering
- Renewable Gasfield
- Methane pyrolysis
- C2PAT - Carbon to Product Austria
- Innovation Liquid Energy
- Renewable Steel Gases
- ReOil - Kunststoffabfall innovativ rezyklieren
December 2018- November 2020
The project deals with an integrated strategy for the local utilization and long-term storage of renewable electricity from fluctuating sources (photovoltaic, wind). The renewable power is converted in energy carriers like hydrogen and methane in order to enable a demand based, local utilization as well as an injection into the natural gas grid (Power-to-Gas).
Based on the national climate strategy of Austria, 100 % of electric power generation should be provided by renewable sources until 2030. Beside wind power and photovoltaic plants, also biomass, hydro power as well as geothermal power plants are used.
In the area of south Styria, renewable electricity generated by a 1 MWp photovoltaic plant is used for the operation of a PEM electrolyzer. An already existing biogas plant is currently operated with part load. The produced green hydrogen will be used for converting the CO2 in the biogas (about 45 Vol.% of the total biogas) by catalytic methanation into methane without a prior separation of the CO2. The produced synthetic methane is injected into the existing local natural gas grid. Thus, the sectors industry, mobility and domestic are supplied by green energy according to their local requirments.
January 2018 - December 2021
Development of a stationary electricity storage system via high temperature co-electrolysis and catalytic methanation
Conventional Power-to-Gas systems (storage of renewable electricity in CO2 neutral gases) are based on water electrolysis and optionally subsequent methanation. A novel, totally integrated system of CO2 and H2O high temperature Co-electrolysis (CO-SOEC) and catalytic methanation is developed in the flag ship project HYDROMETHA. The combination of these processes as well as the optimization of the components and the operating parameters enable a significant increase of the conversion efficiency of up to 80 %el. By system simplifications, enhanced life time and the optimization of the total process chain, substantial cost reductions are anticipated resulting in an increased market potential. Furthermore, operative strategies are developed based in real life requirements in the energy market, including part load, stand-by and load follow operations. The core system of the CO-SOEC with coupled methanation will be erected as 10 kWel functional unit, and tested in long-term experiments. Fife industrial partners are linked to the consortium as advisors enabling a market oriented development already in an early stage of research.
AUSTRIA’S CLIMATE NEUTRALITY: AN IN-DEPTH EVALUATION OF THE POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTION OF CCU AND CCS FOR THE AUSTRIAN LONG-TERM CLIMATE GOALS
August 2022 - January 2025
Within the project CaCTUS a comprehensive analysis of available and feasible CCU and CCS technologies for the Austrian boundary conditions will be performed. The Austrian climate targets specified in the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) will be used as a basline for the implementation of such technologies, but also their potential for the long-term strategy of a climate-neutral Austria is evaluated. Furthermore, a sound scientific basis will be created for a corresponding legal framework and policy, supporting a successful implementation of technologies that contribute to climate protection.
CaCTUS fully implements the overarching objectives of ACRP research:
· to support climate policy in Austria on local, regional, national and international scales, especially as it is relevant to climate adaption and mitigation, their conflicts and synergies
· to support and strengthen the Austrian climate research community
· to fill knowledge gaps and develop scientific methods and tools
Along with these overarching objectives, the following targets are fully integrated in the scope of the CaCTUS project:
· Identification and quantification of technical potentials for CCU/CCS in Austria in accordance with the National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP)
· Identification of source-specific climate impacts and sink-specific net reduction potentials of CCU/CCS
· Techno-economic assessment of the identified carbon routes and their contribution towards climate neutrality
· Evaluation of present barriers and regulatory shortcomings hindering early implementations and highest impact
· Formulation of specific guidelines and recommendations to support climate-beneficial CCU/CCS activities in Austria
Further information: https://project-cactus.at/
Funding: ACRP – 14th Call
Hydrogen is an important energy source and reducing agent for chemical and metallurgical processes, as it contributes to the decarbonisation of various industry sectors, e.g. steelmaking, but also to mobility or production of synthetic hydrocarbons. Although no CO2 is emitted due to the utilisation of hydrogen, production processes with low CO2-emissions are necessary. The methane pyrolysis would be such a process. It refers to the generation of hydrogen from methane or rather natural gas, whereby methane is decomposed into hydrogen and solid carbon. Different process designs are possible for this purpose. Such routes have already been investigated in an exploratory project at Montanuniversitaet Leoben in cooperation with several chairs and industrial partners. Besides a comparably low energy requirement, also solid carbon being the by-product is a positive aspect of the methane pyrolysis. Carbon offers a wide range of possible applications, which are also being investigated within the research activities.
In the course of a program for hydrogen production at Montanuniversitaet Leoben, several chairs will cooperate to further advance the process development of methane pyrolysis. As a part of this collaboration also a joint pilot plant will be built, where the most promising process routes can be tested on a larger scale. For example, a liquid metal bubble column reactor and a plasma reactor will be set up. The chair of process technology and environmental protection takes on the product gas treatment for the pilot plant, which includes the removal of solid carbon as well as the separation of hydrogen and unreacted methane. In addition to these experimental investigations, modelling and simulation of the pyrolysis process are conducted. Specifically, CFD-simulations of a reactive bubbly flow in liquid metal are carried out in the research group energy process engineering.
In the project BioHeat the conversion of biomass (residues) such as waste wood or sewage sludge into high-temperature process heat is being investigated.
The BioHeat process consists of a dual-step biomass gasification producing syngas, which can subsequently be either directly combusted or transformed to SNG. SNG production necessitates finer gas cleaning steps to avoid catalyst deactivation. However, the advantage of SNG production is long-term energy storage and distribution within the existing natural gas grid. These to variants of syngas utilization will be thoroughly tested and compared within the project also in terms of its socio-economic impacts. A further focus point concerns the nutrient recovery from bed ashes of the gasification process to reduce disposal mass.
Catalytic methanation of syngas at VTIU Leoben:
The tasks of the project BioHeat will be jointly conducted by the Technical University Vienna, BEST Bioenergy and Sustainable Technologies GmbH, Wien Energie GmbH, Energy and Chemical Engineering GmbH, der Jagiellonian University Krakow and the polish plant construction company Danex. The transnational research project is funded via the ERA-NET initiative (Networking the European Research Area) in cooperation with FFG (Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft). The main focus of VTIU lies on the investigation of catalytic methanation in fixed-bed reactors of the gasification product gas. PhD student Andreas Krammer will manage the project for VTIU. After the successful completion of HydroMetha this is his second project with the focus on catalytic methanation including experimental and modelling approaches.
The achievement of the strict national and international climate targets for the years 2030 and 2040 form the motivation for the implementation of the project “Carbon to Product Austria (C2PAT)”. Companies with high carbon dioxide footprints need to avoid their emissions by modifying their current process procedures and adapting their energy sources or reducing them through innovative and new technologies. In the C2PAT project, companies from different industrial sectors, namely Lafarge Zementwerke GmbH, Verbund AG, OMV AG and Borealis AG, are working together to contribute to tackling the climate crisis.
Exhaust gases from cement plants contain high concentration of carbon dioxide. The production of cement relies naturally on an endothermal reaction and requires high-temperature heat of around 1,450°C for clinker formation in the rotary kiln. One third of emitted carbon dioxide stems from the provision of heat from fuels such as pieces of tires or plastic, while the remainder is released during the burning of the cement clinker from the fed limestone mixture.
In the project “C2PAT” these unavoidable, process-related carbon dioxide emissions should be used as feedstock for renewable plastics production. At the Lafarge site in Mannersdorf am Leithagebirge (Lower Austria), CO2 will be captured from the waste gas of the cement plant by an amine scrubbing unit, and further processed in a newly erected power-to-liquid pilot (PtL) plant. Green hydrogen will be produced on site with the help of an electrolyzer, which is powered on the one hand by electricity from a newly constructed PV park near the cement plant and on the other hand will be fed with renewable power from the grid. Syncrude will be produced in a reverse water gas shift reactor with downstream Fischer Tropsch synthesis. The further treatment of the syncrude into various forms of plastic (polymers) will be done in co-processing at the nearby refinery. In addition to using carbon dioxide as feedstock, this project is also an example for a circular economy approach and sectoral cooperation among companies operating in different industrial sectors. The material flow from fired plastics through a carbon capture plant with synthesis and processing to renewable plastics in existing steam crackers is unique.
The annual capacity of the PtL pilot plant is designed for 10,000 tons CO2 obtained from the exhaust gas of the cement plant Mannersdorf am Leithagebirge. The pilot plant will be used to further develop critical parts of the value chain as well as process equipment, and prove a stable, long-term operation. The pilot plant is a preliminary project to analyze and support the interconnection between the cement plant and the energy supplier handling green power and the operation of the electrolyzer, as well as the chemical conversion to plastics. Furthermore, the cooperation of a large, cross-sectoral industry consortium is implemented in practice. This project shall provide the basis for the breakthrough to erect a scaled-up, industrial sized plant which captures the entire CO2 of Mannersdorf’s cement plant of about 700,000 tons annually.
Additional information: C2PAT
Natural carbonation, also known as silicate weathering, describes a process in which atmospheric CO2 reacts with alkali and alkaline earth metals to form a carbonate. This process, which occurs in nature, takes place over a geological timescale and therefore has extremely slow reaction kinetics. The present research project deals with the acceleration of the carbonation process. Under optimized pressure and temperature conditions, the CO2 absorption capacity of minerals containing metal oxides is investigated. In this process, the metal oxides (MO), predominantly magnesium or calcium oxide, are brought into contact with carbon dioxide as shown in reaction equation (1) to produce a carbonate (MCO3). Carbonation represents an exothermic reaction, which is why additional heat is released during the formation of the carbonate.
MO + CO2 → MCO3 + Heat (1)
Together with our project partner RHI Magnesita, the Montan University of Leoben is researching the carbonation potential of various minerals and secondary raw materials using direct aqueous carbonation. In this process, a carbonation reaction is enabled with the addition of water and the CO2 uptake is accelerated by adjusting various parameters such as temperature, CO2 partial pressure, particle size or even the use of additives. The laboratory set-up used is a batch process in which solid material and water are added to the reactor. The reactor is then sealed, heated, and a pure CO2 gas stream is injected after the desired temperature is reached. A carbonation reaction then takes place under these elevated pressure and temperature conditions. The finished product is removed and analyzed after completion of the experiment.
June 2018 - May 2022
Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) (Grant Agreement Nr. 800659)
i3upgrade aims to valorize carbon containing steel gases by means of hydrogen intensified synthesis and innovative process control systems. A special focus is paid to the catalytic methanation of process gases which are generated under dynamic and transient conditions in an integrated steel mill. By utilization of green hydrogen synthetic methane is synthesized which covers the internal demand on natural gas of the steel mill, and thus the CO2 emissions are reduced.
In the frame of the European Union funded project, the research group investigates the effects of continuously changing process parameters (i.e. pressure, Gas composition, volume flow, available hydrogen) on the methanation reaction and the used catalyst. Beside others, a nickel coated honeycomb catalyst on cordierite basis is manufactured, and characterized in the laboratory methanation plant under dynamic operating conditions. The performance is compared with commercially available conventional bulk catalysts.
The project was successfully finished by May 2022.
Further information: www.i3upgrade.eu
In the project „Innovation Flüssige Energie“ (IFE) a system for the highly efficient generation of CO2-neutral synthetic fuels is being designed and subsystems are being developed. A Solid Oxide Co-Electrolysis (Co-SOEC) is combined with an efficient CO2 extraction and a Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process. The plant produces synthetic diesel, naphtha, and waxes from water and carbon dioxide. The SOEC is operated as co-electrolysis which generates H2 and CO in one process step. Together with the thermal coupling of the Co-SOEC and the FT process, a significantly higher degree of efficiency can be achieved compared to alkaline and PEM low-temperature electrolysis and downstream FT processes.
The system is designed for a maximum electrical input power of 1 MW, which enables the production of about 500,000 litres of synthetic fuel per year. The research focus for VTiU is on the assessment and selection of an appropriate CO2 extraction method as well as on the establishment of a process concept for upgrading the Fischer-Tropsch products.
Further information: iwo-austria.at/innovation-fluessige-energie
March 2017- February 2020 (finished)
Implementation of renewable energy in steel production for the enhancement of energy efficiency and for the reduction of CO2 emissions.
Energy rich CO-, CO2- and H2- containing gases are generated in different processes of an integrated steel mill. According to the state-of-the-art these gases are used as energy carriers only. In the frame of this project, complete process chains for the utilization of these steel gases are developed and experimentally investigated. Hydrogen is sourced by either water electrolysis or gasification of biomass in a dual fluidized bed. The steel gases are subsequently catalytically converted to methane. Special focus is given to a synergetic integration (i.e O2 utilization) of the power-to-gas plant and the biomass gasification into the steel mill process.
Main targets are a significant reduction of the CO2 emissions, the enhancement of the energy efficiency of the production and the chemical storage of excess renewable electricity which can be utilized inside and outside of the integrated steel mill.
The project was successfully finished in 2021.
The urgent need for reducing CO2 from anthropogenic sources creates the necessity of developing new systems and/or readjusting current ones. The intention of this project is the inclusion of waste gas streams from energy intensive sources (typical from the petrochemical, steel or refractory industry) being rich in CO2 into reforming processes in order to produce syngas. Due to the complexity of the processes, plenty emission points are available as CO2 input for the reforming. The largest CO2 emission sources in the steel industry are the blast furnace (BF) accounting for 65% of the overall emissions, the coke plant and the sinter plant with 27% and 6% respectively. In the case of petroleum refineries, furnaces and boilers are responsible of 65% of the emissions, whereas for the catalytic cracker or gasifier the emissions account for 16%.For the refractory industry, 70% of the CO2 emitted is bounded to the treatment of the raw materials and less than 20% come from the thermal energy required in the process.
In the “Tri-Reforming” project, CO2 is catalytically converted to synthesis gas by addition of methane and steam resulting in varying CO/H2 ratios. The CO2 is not captured from the exhaust gases but the exhaust gas is directly reformed. In the catalytic reactor, steam reforming, dry reforming and partial oxidation are taking place simultaneously. By adding steam and methane, the inert gas share is significantly diluted in the product gas. For the experimental investigation of the reforming process, a new laboratory plant will be erected and operated.
In the European Union, 25 Million tons of plastic waste is generated annually, whereby about 40 % are ephemeral packaging waste. In order to reduce fossil resources and to enable the required recycling rates, the ReOil process is an attractive option for feedstock recycling of plastic waste by pyrolysis. In the process also contaminated and mixed plastic waste fractions can be exploited for which a classical mechanical recycling is not possible. Polymer waste is heated up to temperatures above 400°C in inert atmosphere resulting in thermal cracking of the polymer chains. The derived product has properties of a synthetic crude oil which can be further processed in existing refinery infrastructure to petrochemical products, feedstock for polyolefin and fuels.
We work on the further development, the optimization and the scale-up of this process as co-operation partner of industry. Main focus is given to the potential feedstock and its preprocessing, the influencing parameters for operation and on the product spectrum, and particularly the reaction mechanisms as well as the kinetic of the thermal crack process. Beside experimental work on laboratory and pilot plants, model building and simulation are applied.
Schubert, T., Lechleitner, A., Lehner, M., & Hofer, W. (2019). 4-Lump kinetic model of the co-pyrolysis of LDPE and a heavy petroleum fraction. Fuel, 116597. doi: 10.1016/j.fuel.2019.116597
Schubert, T., Lehner, M., Karner, T., Hofer, W., & Lechleitner, A. (2019). Influence of reaction pressure on co-pyrolysis of LDPE and a heavy petroleum fraction. Fuel Processing Technology, 193, 247-211. doi: 10.1016/j.fuproc.2019.05.016