Demand-driven production of liquid fuels from regenerative energy sources is a major element of the energy turnaround. Production of synthetic fuels from solar energy and carbon dioxide extracted from air is the objective of the SOLETAIR project started now by INERATEC, a spinoff of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), in cooperation with Finnish partners. Together, the partners plan to take into operation the first chemical pilot plant worldwide. It is so compact that it fits into a ship container and produces gasoline, diesel, and kerosene from regenerative hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
The plant consists of three components. The direct air capture unit developed by the Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT) extracts carbon dioxide from air. An electrolysis unit developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) produces the required hydrogen by means of solar power. A microstructured, chemical reactor is the key component of the plant and converts the hydrogen produced from solar power together with carbon dioxide into liquid fuels. This reactor was developed by KIT. The compact plant was developed to maturity and is now being commercialized by INERATEC.
“Projects, such as SOLETAIR, are essential for the success of the energy turnaround,” Professor Thomas Hirth, Vice President for Innovation and International Affairs of KIT, says. “Commissioning of this pilot plant is an example of successful transfer of KIT’s research innovations to industry.” INERATEC GmbH is a spinoff of KIT and develops, constructs, and sells compact chemical plants for various gas-to-liquid and power-to-liquid applications. The spinoff is supported under the EXIST research transfer program of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
A new model developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) shows how an electricity system mainly based on solar and wind works in all regions of the world. It shows the functioning of an electricity system that fulfils the targets set by the Paris agreement by using only renewable energy sources.
The global Internet of Energy Model visualizes a 100 percent renewable energy system (100%RE) for the electricity sector for 2030. It can do this for the entire world which, in the model, has been structured into 145 regions, which are all visualised, and aggregated to 9 major world regions.
“With the simulation, anyone can explore what a renewable electricity system would look like. This is the first time scientists have been able to do this on a global scale.” says Christian Breyer, LUT Solar Economy Professor and a leading scientist behind the model.
The model is designed to find the most economical solution for a renewable electricity system. The model shows how the supply of electricity can be organised to cover the electricity demand for all hours of the year. This means that best mix of renewable energy generation, storage and transmission components can be found to cover the electricity demand, leading to total electricity cost roughly between 55 and 70 euros per megawatt-hour for all 9 major regions in the world.
But the story does not end here. The researchers have ambitious goals to develop the model further. Future upgrades will go from looking only at the electricity sector to showing the full energy sector, including heat and mobility sectors. The model will also describe how to transition from the current energy system towards a fully sustainable one.
According to the researchers the model debunks myths about what renewables can and cannot achieve. One of the myths is that a fully renewable energy system cannot possibly run stable for all hours of the year, due to the intermittent character of solar and wind energy. Another myth is the idea that without large base load generation capacities, such as coal or nuclear plants, an electricity system cannot work. According to the researchers, both of these are incorrect and the facts can be checked from the model.
“My hope is that we can finally stop debating about these myths. The visualisation shows exactly how a fully renewable electricity system operates. So let’s just build it,” emphasizes Pasi Vainikka, Principal Scientist from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd.
Transparency of the data and research is very important for the researchers. Anyone can download the result data for further inspection. The publications based on the data are available online.
“We want the model to give every citizen the chance to familiarise themselves with a renewable energy system. Increased knowledge usually lowers the resistance towards new developments,” says Vainikka.
Researchers hope that this can facilitate fact-based discourse on global energy transition.
“Every country in the world has to find pathways to achieve the Paris agreement targets and to avoid stranded assets. This model can provide the help for policy-makers, industrial decision-makers and societal stakeholders to do that,” emphasizes Breyer.
Professor Breyer will present the simulation for the first time on Friday the 4th at the World Clean Energy Conference (WCEC) hosted by the United Nations in Geneva.
A home appliance that grows the ingredients for a healthy meal within a week from plant cells is no longer science fiction. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd’s first 3D-printed CellPod prototype is already producing harvests.
VTT and its plant biotechnology research scientists have the vision of developing a home appliance for the markets that makes it possible to grow, say, healthy Finnish berries in a new way. Growing plant cells in a bioreactor is not a new idea as such, but only the latest technologies have enabled the development of a plant cell incubator for home use that yields a harvest within a week.
VTT’s first CellPod prototype is currently producing a harvest in Otaniemi. The appliance resembles a design lamp and is ideal for keeping on a kitchen table. Researchers are in the process of developing different product ideas in collaboration with consumers, with the aim of commercialising the concept.
“Urbanisation and the environmental burden caused by agriculture are creating the need to develop new ways of producing food – CellPod is one of them. It may soon offer consumers a new and exciting way of producing local food in their own homes,” says Lauri Reuter, VTT research scientist.
Putting the best parts of plants to use
The idea of the CellPod concept is based on growing the undifferentiated cells of a plant rather than a whole plant. In other words, only the best parts of a plant are cultivated. These cells contain the plant’s entire genetic potential, so they are capable of producing the same healthy compounds – such as antioxidants and vitamins – as the whole plant. The nutritional value of a cloudberry cell culture, for example, is similar to or even better than that of the berry itself. The taste still needs development: at the moment, it is very mild and neutral.
So far, VTT has used cells from its own culture collection to grow Arctic bramble cells, cloudberry cells and stone bramble cells in the CellPod. The bioreactor also enables the production of healthy food from plants other than traditional food crops, such as birch. The development of tailored cell lines is also possible, in which case nutritional characteristics can be developed according to need. On the other hand, the optimisation of growth conditions, such as light and temperature, can also affect the compounds produced by the cells – just like in nature.
Consumers involved in development work
The consumer wishes and views on the food production of the future play a key role in the design of the concept. People interested in VTT’s CellPod or other food production methods based on cell cultures can participate in the discussion and the development work on VTT’s online platform Owela (http://owela.fi/cellpod).
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland developed an extremely efficient small-size energy storage, a micro-supercapacitor, which can be integrated directly inside a silicon microcircuit chip.
The high energy and power density of the miniaturized energy storage relies on the new hybrid nanomaterial developed recently at VTT. This technology opens new possibilities for integrated mobile devices and paves the way for zero-power autonomous devices required for the future Internet of Things (IoT).
Supercapacitors resemble electrochemical batteries. However, in contrast to for example mobile phone lithium ion batteries, which utilize chemical reactions to store energy, supercapacitors store mainly electrostatic energy that is bound at the interface between liquid and solid electrodes. Similarly to batteries supercapacitors are typically discrete devices with large variety of use cases from small electronic gadgets to the large energy storages of electrical vehicles.
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is the largest multidisciplinary research organisation in Northern Europe.
It provides high-end technology solutions and innovation services. VTT is a non-profit research organisation.
VTT Group is a government agency, and has four subsidiary corporations: VTT Expert Services Oy, VTT Ventures Oy, VTT International Oy and VTT Memsfab Oy. 69% of funding is external (private), 31% is from the government and 18% international.
VTT has 2,834 employees, of which 81% have a university degree and 26% a postgraduate degree. There are 1,510 customers, of which 865 are domestic companies, 385 foreign companies and 220 public bodies. VTT has a patent portfolio of over 1,200 patents and 605 peer-reviewed scientific articles.
The Latest Updated Research News:
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland research articles from Innovation Toronto
- Integrated energy storage inside a microchip – June 9, 2016
- Robot programming innovation automates short production runs and single item products – January 12, 2016
- Next-generation fuel cells are ready for low-emission electricity production – November 26, 2015
- Breakthrough manufacturing process could lead to air-conditioned clothes – November 5, 2015
- Communicating with robots to build things for human missions to Mars – November 5, 2015
- Sensor detects spoilage of food – May 10, 2015
- Decorative and flexible solar panels become part of interior design and the appearance of objects – January 25, 2015
- Molecular self-assembly scales up from nanometers to millimeters
- Urgent need to recycle rare metals
- Images and video move by touch from one smartphone to another tablet
- Pocket Microscope With Accessory for Ordinary Smart Phone
- One-Third of Car Fuel Consumption Is Due to Friction Loss
- New CCTV Technology to Help Prevent Terror Attacks