The future of liquid fuels is made in Karlsruhe

FutureFuelsCamp visits INERATEC and KIT

What will climate-friendly driving, flying and heating look like in the future? For answers to this question, the German Institute for Heat and Oil Technology (IWO) and Eurofuel invited delegates to the FutureFuelsCamp in Karlsruhe/Germany, where research is being conducted on greenhouse gas-neutral, liquid fuels and combustibles. And much more: The new fuels are already being produced there in pilot plants, so the event provided an opportunity to see at first hand the daily work of the scientists and engineers. At the start-up company INERATEC, winner of the German Founders Award, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), guests from all over Europe were informed about the options and opportunities of the new, almost CO2-neutral fuels. 

There are various "paths" for the production of alternative fuels from renewable sources. Currently, biomass-based products in particular are available on the market that already show greenhouse gas reductions. In the future, the selection of raw materials for the production of liquid hydrocarbons should deliberately avoid competition with agricultural land or food. Due to the foreseeable large demand, in the long term electricity-based, synthetic energy sources from renewably-produced hydrogen and CO2 separated from the air would be required as carbon sources - the so-called e-fuels.

E Fuels

Fill up on climate protection: In the car as well as in the boiler room

In numerous projects in Germany, various processes and raw materials for the production of greenhouse gas-reduced alternatives to crude oil are currently being tested. At INERATEC, the new fuels are already being produced in a demonstration plant. The participants of the FutureFuelsCamp were able to witness first-hand the formation of the low carbon liquid. With this, today's cars or heaters can be operated - without emitting additional CO2 into the environment. "This is the great advantage of the new fuels," says INERATEC Managing Director Dr. Tim Böltken. "Like their fossil predecessors, they are of great advantage for many applications due to their high energy density and simple transport and storage properties - whether vehicle or heating system. However, this is greenhouse gas neutral and often with significantly improved properties with regard to their local emissions."

Closed carbon cycles – CO2 becomes a raw material

Visitors went on to the KIT energy campus. "Bioliq" and the Kopernikus project "P2X" are two pilot plants that work with different raw materials, but both produce greenhouse gas-neutral fuels according to the same basic principle: The CO₂ produced and emitted during combustion will ultimately be recycled for the production of new fuels. A cycle is created. The greenhouse gas becomes the raw material: either bound in biomass or extracted directly from the air. The "bioliq" plant produces high-quality petrol from biogenic residues that is a drop-in replacement for its fossil fuel equivalent - i.e. it can be used directly and mixed with conventional petrol. In the Copernicus project "P2X", the CO2 required for fuel production is extracted directly from the air, while the hydrogen component is produced by electrolysis from green electricity and water. "Both projects are important flagships for demonstrating the great importance of future liquid fuels for climate protection," says Olaf Bergmann, Head of Communications at IWO and organiser of the FutureFuelsCamp.

Discussing future fuels

Fuels of tomorrow can be used in today's technology

The participants discussed what role liquid, renewable fuels will play in the future in the joint Future Forum of IWO and the European fuel oil association Eurofuel, the two organisers of the FutureFuelsCamp. Ideas were presented on how climate targets can be achieved with greenhouse gas-neutral, liquid fuels. In particular, the advantages of the drop-in capability of the new products play a major role: "Gradually, renewable fuels can be added to conventional fuels and thus increasingly replace fossil oil and fuels," says Dr. Ernst-Moritz Bellingen, President of Eurofuel. Everyone agreed on one thing: greenhouse gas-neutral liquid fuels and combustibles can be a practicable solution for more climate protection.