Novel use of solar power

A solar-power plant in Germany is being used to to make fuel from air and water.

Fitting inside a shipping container the plant’s power is aimed at producing gasoline, diesel and kerosene from carbon dioxide extracted from ambient air.
Soletair project
A&T Technology reports that the first device of its kind, the plant has been developed jointly by German and Swedish researchers as part of a project called SOLETAIR and will soon begin testing in Finland.

“Projects, such as SOLETAIR, are essential for the success of the energy turnaround,” said Professor Thomas Hirth, from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany.

The plant consists of a direct air capture unit developed by the Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT) that extracts carbon dioxide from the air, an electrolysis unit developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) producing hydrogen by solar-powered electrolysis of water and a micro-structured chemical reactor converting the hydrogen and carbon dioxide into synthetic liquid fuels.

In order to halt the progress of climate change, as many sectors as possible will have to switch to CO2-free sources of energy. Electricity is expected to be the number one source of energy. However, some industries may still require liquid fuels and being able to manufacture those using fully renewable resources will be key to achieving emission-reduction targets.

The SOLETAIR team hopes to eventually scale up the technology to allow industry-scale production of clean liquid fuels.



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