Towards CO2 neutral fuels and feedstock

Oil, coal and gas are being replaced by biomass as fuel, for heavy road transport, shipping and aviation, for the greening of our gas grid and as back-up fuel, but also as raw material, for example in the chemistal industry. In the longer term, synthetic fuels based on hydrogen and CO2 will be developed.


ECN part of TNO is working on three innovation lines in the CO2-neutral fuels and raw materials programme:

1. Traditional raw materials, in which the products are developed from oil, coal and gas, with a focus on safe, efficient and reliable production processes and installations. The aim of this innovation line is to achieve a gradual phasing out of oil, coal and gas from the energy system, with optimal use of existing infrastructure for a new energy system. We are working on production optimisation of ageing fields, integrity of process installations, reuse of offshore infrastructure for CO2 storage and hydrogen production, smart techniques to seal off empty gas fields and to dismantle infrastructure. Good knowledge of the subsurface for energy applications, traditional oil, salt and gas production, but in the future also for geothermal energy, CO2 storage and energy storage, remains important for safe use and public acceptance.

2. Thermochemical conversion of biomass, aimed at developing processes for the conversion of biomass into transport fuels, electricity and heat, and raw materials for chemistry and materials. The aim is to maximise value creation through smart product combinations, optimising the use of "molecular capital" in the biomass and biomass as a sustainable carbon source, with sustainability as a prerequisite. Cascading, the use of residual flows and the closing of cycles are extremely important. Biomass includes residues from forestry and agriculture, organic residues from industry and households, and seaweed. The programme covers the entire value chain from biomass raw material (excluding cultivation and harvesting) to end products and includes biomass pre-processing, gaseous and liquid biofuels via gasification, biorefinery, decentralised biomass use for heat and electricity, biochar production and application, lignin recovery via pyrolysis and use of biorefinery residues for energy production.

3. Synthetic fuels and raw materials, whereby future CO2-neutral products are developed for which limited alternatives are available on the market. These include heavy transport, shipping, aviation and as a fuel/raw material for the chemical industry. Hydrogen and CO2 or syngas form the basis for this. The programme focuses on the efficient and cost-effective production of hydrogen from electrolysis by developing and testing various electrolysis systems and components. Power to Gas and Power to Liquids are important technologies for converting future volumes of sustainable electricity into basic products for sustainable transport and mobility and as raw materials for the chemical industry.

This programme sees collaboration between industrial and government partners through public private partnerships, for example in North Sea Energy, InVesta, VoltaChem, Biorizon, H-vision. If you are interested in participating in one of these PPPs or in the research programme, please contact us.

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