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RWE Innovation Centre – NRW-Revier-Power-to-BioJetFuel demonstration project
RWE Innovation Centre – NRW-Revier-Power-to-BioJetFuel demonstration project

Sewage sludge as the basis for renewable synthetic raw fuels

NRW-Revier-Power-to-BioJetFuel demonstration project

Implementing the exit from coal and the planned end to the use of fossil raw materials will bring far-reaching changes in the coming decades, affecting all areas of daily life, the economy and various sectors (power, transport, industry, commercial/buildings) and also infrastructure and land use. To minimise the risk of structural rifts and social and demographic disruption as far as possible, value chains and industrial workplaces with a highly qualified workforce must be maintained on-site as much as possible and new ones developed.

This applies in particular to the Rhenish lignite area and the Ruhr district. Society’s goal of transforming the power and raw material supply system can succeed only with an end-to-end approach encompassing all sectors. In addition to the expansion of renewables, the future system for supplying energy and raw materials – based on fluctuating power generation using photovoltaics and wind power – will therefore need to store large volumes of energy for the shorter and longer term and transport it across great distances.

In collaboration with partners BP Europe, Jülich Research Centre and RWE Renewables, research is therefore being conducted into the fundamental feasibility of a demonstration system for the manufacture of renewable synthetic raw fuels (methanol, Fischer-Tropsch products) based on sewage sludge (and other forms of biomass as appropriate) and sustainable H2 at an RWE location in NRW, and their large-scale further processing and use in the Ruhr district. The approach is directed towards demonstrating the development and utilisation of biogenic CO2 for the production of climate-neutral fuels (e.g. aviation fuel), and making use of biomass in the form of sewage sludge in the process. The potential of the demonstrated technology will be explored as a blueprint for the smart application of integrated energy beyond NRW’s borders and to bolster the regions within the area.

Project implementation

Hydrogen sources include electrolyser systems fed with renewable electricity and renewable H2 drawn from a hydrogen pipeline. For the carbon source, the choice is between a sewage sludge mono-combustion system, an energy-from-waste plant or a system for high-temperature conversion. Various methods are being investigated for manufacturing a raw product that will subsequently be processed using existing refinery infrastructure. The renewable electricity must be obtained from one of RWE’s own wind farms in the Rhenish region and/or in northern Germany.

A feasibility study estimates the investment, operating and prime costs for an industrial-scale demonstration project. The aim is also to calculate the carbon footprint for the renewable synthetic fuel and, by estimating the potential for usable CO2 point sources in NRW (e.g. sewage sludge, energy-from-waste plants), renewables and usable H2 infrastructure, to illustrate the socio-economic and industrial policy contribution to be made to NRW and the broader mining region by producing synthetic fuels.

The study of concepts and potentials performed here is intended to assist with preparation for the actual implementation project to construct and operate the demonstration plant. Depending on the overall regulatory conditions, a start could then be made on developing the actual project subject to approval of suitable multi-sector structural aid and climate protection measures.

The concept study examines a range of options for manufacturing raw products from sewage sludge and renewable hydrogen and refining them into sustainable aviation fuel.

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Project implementation
RWE Innovation Centre – NRW-Revier-Power-to-BioJetFuel demonstration project illustration
In the concept study, different variants for the production of raw products from sewage sludge and regenerative hydrogen and their further processing into sustainable aircraft fuel are examined
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