New liquid fuels – out of the sunshine?

#FutureFuels – part 3

We all know that energy can be generated from the sun; photovoltaic and solar thermal technologies are widely developed. What is less known is that one can produce liquid fuels through this renewable source of electricity…

The “Power-to-Liquid” or “Power-to-Liquids” (PtL) process consists in generating a synthetic liquid fuel by using renewable electricity, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or other sources, and water. Hydrogen is produced from renewable electricity by way of electrolysis; carbon dioxide is captured from the atmosphere or other sources, and liquid fuels are generated through a synthesis process named “Fischer-Tropsch”.

These synthetic fuels, sometimes also called “e-fuels”, can be CO2 neutral and are a serious option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while keeping the liquid form, which facilitates transport and storage of energy.

The e-fuels can then be mixed with traditional fuels or further processed into products with the same properties as gasoline, diesel, heating oil or kerosene.

A combination of PtL and Biomass-to-Liquid (BtL) technologies is “Power-and-Biomass-to-Liquid” (PBtL). In this case, the carbon dioxide is provided by the processing of biomass, while the hydrogen comes from the electrolysis of renewable electricity. The product generated is similar to PtL.

FT method

(Graph: Eurofuel)


PtL and PBtL technologies enable to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in ideal conditions up to 98% compared to mineral oil.

An impressive example of existing demonstration facility for e-fuels is provided by the company Sunfire in Dresden, Germany.

IMG 2953

(Eurofuel visiting the Sunfire facilities in Dresden. Photo: Eurofuel)


Other #FutureFuels articles

Part 1: What future liquid fuels to heat our homes?

Part 2: New liquid fuels... out of biomass and waste?

Part 4: New liquid fuels... out of algae?

Part 5: Future fuels: Climate friendly... and affordable?


Interested to learn more?

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Register to our workshop on Future Liquid Fuels, which will take place in Brussels on Wednesday 6 June 2018.