Production of synthetic fuels and validation of the manufacturing process in frames of a cooperation between corporations and universities

The main problem, challenge addressed by the research project

The long-term need to increase the ratio of renewable energy in the energy mix is defined by the RED II (EU) legislation. The target numbers and the criteria are expected to become stricter in the recently launched “Fit for 55” legislative process. This will affect every actor of the mobility value chain. E-chemicals are produced via chemical processing (synthetic petrol, gas oil, kerosene) of hydrogen (and perhaps synthesis gas), that is generated by electrolysis exploiting intermittent renewable electricity (that is not storable conventionally).

Objectives of the research project

The objective of the project is to create a scientific centre to produce synthetic fuels, utilizing the competences of the project partners in an integrated manner. Our aim is to establish national activities on electrolysis, thermal catalysis and system integration, and thus create a competitive advantage for the Hungarian enterprises on the quickly expanding market of technologies aiming the production of synthetic fuels.

The most important activities of the research project

Catalytic GTL technology development to produce synthesis gas in CO2+H2O reaction, and e-fuel from different composition synthesis gases. Component development, specifically new catalysts. Process and production technology development (e.g., yield dependence on inputs, catalysts and reaction conditions). GTL reactors: CO2+H2 reverse-water-gas-shift (RWGS) reactor, CO+H2 Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reactor.

Development of processes to transform intermediate products to final products (upgrade, refining). This includes the classification of products generated in Fischer-Tropsch reactors, the conversion of products in test reactors (e.g., hydrocracking) and the investigation of the possible application of the product as fuel – all in cooperation with the product development laboratory of MOL and ÁMEI Zrt. 

System integration, during which the different sub-units will be coupled (e.g., green hydrogen generated through electrolysis delivered to the GTL), upstream and downstream integration of the system (e.g., applying CO2-sources with different compositions) with the electricity system (also with PV), and the product refining processes. 

The chemical engineering designing, modelling and simulation of single parts, technologies and processes are horizontal tasks, ranging from laboratory systems to pilot plants. Within this work package, we will provide technological data for the planning of the pilot plant system (capacity of 1000 t/year CO2 conversion), based on the engineering designs, experimental results and simulation analysis.

Expected results, TRL

We will develop a flexible pilot plant, which will be unique even on European level. The pilot plant will allow testing different catalysts, reactors, cells, etc. during the production of e-fuels in a validated way, resembling industrial circumstances. In the test station the quantity, pressure, and the exact composition of carbon-dioxide will be adjustable. Moreover, the quality and quantity of generated products will be monitored using on-line techniques. We will analyze the refining possibilities of generated FT products, and qualify the resulting fuel (composition, tribology, etc.). 

Project partners – academic and industrial

  • University of Szeged
  • University of Győr
  • University of Pannonia
  • Bay Zoltán Research Institute

A possible future research avenue, new projects and cooperation possibilities

After the project, together with industrial partners, we are planning the implementation of a Pilot plant based on the experience of the test pilot plant.