Government-funded “Fabiene” project

Research into the future supply of raw materials for the chemical industry and innovative fuels

As part of its drive to develop processes for material use of lignite and other carbon sources like biomass, sewage sludge and residues, RWE is working with project partners TU Darmstadt and ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions from Dortmund on a project funded by the German Ministry of Economics, which will be running from 2016-2020 with a budget of around €9 million.

The aim of this project is to map the entire Coal-to-Liquid/Coal-to-Gas (CtL/CtG) chain in pilot plant scale. The individual techniques involved in these processes are commercially available and already used worldwide, but further developments are required to adapt the techniques to different raw materials and the relevant legal and regulatory conditions in Germany. In addition, the aim is to trial some more advanced techniques to improve the efficiency and economic viability of the process. A further focus is to test the flexibility of the CtL/CtG chain with a view to coupling such a plant to an equally flexible power plant in the future.

Zoom Such development work is only possible with the help of committed partners who are willing to contribute the necessary expertise to the project. TU Darmstadt, at its Institute of Energy Systems and Energy Technology, operates a HTW (High Temperature Winkler) gasifier with a thermal capacity of 500 kW. The gasification plant was developed in collaboration with ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions and successfully commissioned with Rhenish lignite for the first time in 2015.

As part of the ongoing project, the HTW gasification plant will be expanded to include a gas treatment system that will refine the raw gas derived from the gasifier to the quality required for the final Syngas product. Plans for this addition are being led by TU Darmstadt and ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions with support from RWE. The gas treatment plant will allow testing of various gas treatment processes.

The final section of the trial plant is product synthesis and this was realized by RWE. Tests on the effectiveness of synthesis take place in two stages. The aim is to develop a technique that can be applied to customer-specific products and then convince potential customers of the quality of such new products. In the first stage, various forms of synthesis will be tested on artificial synthesis gas from compressed gas bottles. That initial testing will take place in Niederaussem. Then the synthesis test bench, installed in an overseas shipping container, will be transported to Darmstadt and linked to the gas treatment plant. That way, the syntheses can be tested with real synthesis gas to gauge the impact of such things as raw material-specific trace elements.