Researchers from ETH Zurich opened in Spain, a pilot plant for the production of synthetic fuels, reactors which operate completely on solar energy. According to the message of the project Sun-To-Liquid, in which was built the enterprise, the complex is already successfully produced the first litres of synthetic jet fuel.
Synthetic fuel is considered environmentally neutral fuel, since burning does not affect the balance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Synthetic fuel made from water and carbon dioxide, and the composition is characteristic of conventional gasoline and diesel fuel sulfur compounds and lead.
Pilot plant for the production of synthetic fuel using solar energy was opened on the territory of the Spanish Energy Institute IMDEA in Madrid. The plant is a solar concentrator that increases energy density of solar radiation in 2,5 thousand times.
Solar energy is concentrated in the chemical reactor, installed on top of the host tower of the solar concentrator. The developers at ETH Zurich say that in this reactor the first step is a successful thermochemical splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen and carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and oxygen with almost 100% separation of the products.
In the second phase, under the action of high temperatures in the reactor reach 1500 degrees Celsius, forms a synthesis gas. Then synthesis gas is fed into the reactor, where it is already converted into liquid fuels. The transformation occurs by the process of Fischer — Tropsch.
At the end of 2017, the German company Audi has announced plans to build in the Swiss Laufenburg plant for the production of synthetic diesel fuel. It is planned that after reaching the full capacity the plant will produce about 400 million litres of synthetic fuel per year.