A consortium led by Shell Denmark with 17 partners from Denmark and other European countries has received more than 4 million Euros from the Danish Innovation Fund (IFD) to bring commercial production of sustainable fuels for aviation and shipping to the market. The project is called low carbon fuels for aviation and marine markets: LowCarbFuels.dk.
“As part of the green transition, it is important to take advantage of our opportunity to use biowaste and residual biomass to produce sustainable fuel, not least for those parts of the transport sector that are not easily electrified. We see great potential in technology and are proud to be part of a consortium that covers the entire value chain, which is crucial for the success of both technological and market breakthroughs. COWI sees itself as a natural player that contributes to the sector, coupling and integrating every link in the value chain,” says Jeppe Grue, Technical Director, COWI.
The core technology of the project, hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), is being demonstrated in Norway by one of the partners Steeper Energy Aps. The newly funded consortium builds on this and focuses on the refining processes themselves and the finished fuels.
The project focuses on heavy transport
Heavy transport, and especially aviation and shipping, is one of the areas with the greatest challenges in creating significant CO2 reductions and thus contributing to achieving national, EU, and global climate goals. Sustainable fuels have been identified as an important part of the solution to this. The goal of the project is to solve the technical and economic challenges of producing and marketing sustainable fuels for both sectors. Technical data, business models, and implementation scenarios for a range of value chains, from input materials in the form of organic household waste and agricultural residues to finished and ready-to-market fuels are going to be developed. GHG reduction potential is being quantified and sector coupling aspects of green hydrogen and circular use of resources are being covered.
As part of the green transition, it is important to take advantage of our opportunity to use biowaste and residual biomass for the production of sustainable fuel. Not least for those parts of the transport sector that are not easily electrified. We see great potential in technology and are proud to be part of a consortium that covers the entire value chain; this is crucial for the success of both technological and market breakthroughs. COWI sees itself as a natural player that contributes to the sector linkage and integration of all links in the value chain, says Jeppe Grue, technical director, COWI.
Different fuel markets each have their own challenges
Aircraft and marine fuels have different characteristics, and although both can be produced based on HTL bio-oil, the technical path to market them is distinctive; therefore, the refining processes need to be optimised. For aviation fuel, there is a complex certification procedure to ensure that the new fuels are safe to fly with. Marine fuel, on the other hand, does not require such a high degree of refining, but some quality requirements are still set for engines and fuel systems to be able to handle the new fuel. For both types of fuels, the project will carry out tests in the relevant engine technologies – diesel and jet – to demonstrate the applicability in practice.
The consortium covers the entire value chain
Steeper Energy ApS, which is in the process of constructing the world’s first HTL plant at scale in Norway for the production of bio-oil from residual fractions from forestry, is participating as a technology supplier in the project. Access to the plant in Norway means that large quantities of HTL bio-oil can be used in the project, something that has so far been a bottleneck for development.
Steeper Energy has extensive experience with the HTL technology, which in our edition is called Hydrofaction®, and is already involved in a major demonstration project in Norway. Steeper Energy also works with refining the oil produced from the Hydrofaction® process. Establishment of the overall value chain, which the collaboration aims at, is therefore of crucial importance for the future success of Steeper Energy as a technology supplier, says Steen Iversen, technical director, Steeper Energy ApS
From research to implementation
Aalborg University, which has recently demonstrated ‘prototype jet fuel’ from sewage sludge, participates as a knowledge partner and host of a major HTL pilot plant operated in collaboration with Steeper Energy ApS, which can convert sewage sludge, wood residue, and organic household waste into bio-crude oil. Meanwhile, COWI brings great knowledge about the technical challenges of the green transition as well as a link to the Power-to-X area to the project.
The two foreign partners, DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt) from Germany, IFP Energies Nouvelles from France, participate with specialist knowledge of the unique challenges of obtaining alternative fuels for aviation. In the field of marine fuel, Alfa Laval provides specialist knowledge and advanced test facilities for fuel testing.
In addition to its technical partners, the consortium includes the ports of Aalborg and Aarhus, GreenFuelHub from Switzerland and AP Møller-Maersk in the marine fuel area, as well as the West Danish airports – Aalborg Airport, Aarhus Airport, and Billund Airport – and fuel logistics partners DCC & Shell Aviation Denmark and SkyNRG (Netherlands) in the jet fuel area. GreenFuelHub will be involved in supply chain and market analysis as well as fuel certification and infrastructure development for marine application.
Reaching climate goals
With the participation of Energy Cluster Denmark for dissemination and networking, the entire value chain is represented, making it possible to work purposefully with scenarios and new business models regarding the production and distribution of sustainable fuels for both the maritime sector and aviation and helping these to contribute quantitatively to Danish climate goals.
There is huge potential in developing sustainable fuel for the transport industry. The first task is to identify the technological challenges and barriers for getting the technologies out in the market. Second, we need to overcome the barriers through innovation projects that deliver concrete results. We look forward to lifting this task – and not least to disseminating the results from the project, so that we can raise funding to get the solutions out at the market, says Glenda Napier, CEO of Energy Cluster Denmark
Project name: Low Carbon fuels for aviation and marine markets
Project Acronym: LowCarbFuels.dk
Funding agency: Innovation Fund Denmark Grand Solutions
Project period: 01.02.2021 – 31.1.2025
Total budget: DKK 42.9 million / 5.7 MEUR
Amount of support from IFD: DKK 30.75 million / 4.1 MEUR
Shell Denmark, Steeper Energy ApS (Denmark), COWI A/S (Denmark), Aalborg University (Denmark), Aalborg Airport (Denmark), Aarhus Airport (Denmark), Billund Airport (Denmark), DCC & Shell Aviation Denmark (Denmark), Aalborg Harbour (Denmark), Aarhus Harbour (Denmark), Alfa Laval A/S (Denmark), AP Møller-Maersk (Denmark), Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR, Germany), IFP Energie Nouvelles (France), GreenFuelHub (Switzerland), SkyNRG (Netherlands) and Energy Cluster Denmark.