Electrification of the Chemical Industry

30-08-2018 | Program update | P2Heat | P2Hydrogen | P2Chemicals | P2Integrate

Additional investments boost industrial electrification R&D

An additional €2 million will be invested by TNO in its industrial electrification activities within VoltaChem on top of the existing yearly contribution. This increase is the result of additional government investments in applied research by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and a recognition of the importance of the subject and the results attained so far. The funds will be invested in accelerating collaborative R&D in the VoltaChem program lines and in facilitating technology uptake by industry. First results of the additional investments will be expected at the end of 2018.

Early this year Dutch government has decided to invest heavily in the Dutch institutes for applied research (TO2) to support society and industry in developing solutions for big societal challenges. In the framework of these investments, TNO has chosen in consultation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs to allocate a substantial part of these investments to the combination of industrial electrification and CO2 utilization within VoltaChem. This investment offers new opportunities for pursuing upcoming technologies, tackling barriers in the upscaling of processes and generating a comprehensive overview of the relevant value chains together with partners from academia and industry. 

Investment in scouting, acceleration and co-creation 

The additional investments are allocated to several topics across the four program lines of Voltachem. New activities will be deployed based on indicated industrial interests from the previous years, existing activities and partnerships will be accelerated, and pilot- & demonstration-activities will be initiated in relevant industrial clusters. With this approach, the program aims to shorten time to implementation of industrial electrification technologies. The following topics will have special attention in the running year: 

roadmap projects electrification

Power-2-Heat: Electric cracking 

In the E-Match project (2017) it was already identified that the development of electric cracking technology in ethylene production will have a large positive impact on the CO2 footprint of the chemical industry. To tap into this electrification potential, Power-2-Heat technology will have to be developed for high temperatures (> 200 ° C) that cannot be reached with conventional technology like heat pumps or direct electrical heating. To bring this topic further, a new project will be initiated addressing design studies and techno-economic assessments of the most promising technological routes for electric cracking. 

Power-2-Hydrogen: Solid Oxide Electrolysis technology 

Green hydrogen is starting to become an essential part of our future society and of increased interest for the industry. Up till now, the technological focus within the VoltaChem program was dedicated to PEM electrolysis, while also Solid Oxide Electrolysis (SOE) is of high interest for heavy industry. Based ECN’s track record in SOFC and funded by the additional investments, project activities and partnerships will be initiated in the field of SOE Cells (SOEC’s). In 2018, a first high-temperature water electrolysis test platform will be designed, built and tested together with partners. 

Power-2-Chemicals: Paired electro-conversion of biomass & CO2 

To accelerate the application of electrochemistry, additional investments will be made in VoltaChem’s paired electrosynthesis and direct CO2 electrolysis platforms. The existing electrochemical test infrastructure and electrochemical reactor models will be improved for research into single side and paired electrosynthesis of biomass and CO2 towards valuable chemical building blocks. Furthermore, integrated carbon capture and conversion routes will be investigated for longer-term applications. 

Power-2-Integrate: Integrated system model and enhanced business case tool 

The Power-2-Integrate program line aims to assess chemical value chain integration opportunities and business cases of existing and upcoming industrial electrification technologies. Through the additional investments, an international strategic system assessment model will be developed to better understand the context of industrial electrification and CCUS and its impact on worldwide energy and feedstock commodities. This will be complemented by a tactical business case calculation tool to compare the value of different electrification technologies on short- and long-term. 

Power-2-Integrate: Development of regional industrial field labs 

One of the key hurdles in implementation of technology is its upscaling and first application in industrial practice. As part of the additional investments, the feasibility of setting up an industrial electrification field lab in one or more industrial clusters in The Netherlands will be assessed together with regional partners. 

Collaborate? 

Through these additional investments, VoltaChem will extend and accelerate its activities for the coming years. As Shared Innovation Program, we want to do this in close communication and collaboration with our industrial and academic partners.  

Have you identified a relevant topic for your company and are you interested to see what is possible in terms of collaboration? Please, don’t hesitate to contact Martijn de Graaff (martijn.degraaff@tno.nl) to discuss the possibilities. 

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