Fuels from solar energy, CO2 and water
sunfire has developed a technique for efficient liquid fuel (petrol, diesel, kerosene, methanol) production. Base products carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) are used in combination with electrical energy from regenerative sources to produce process gas which is subsequently synthesized into hydrocarbons. Existing refinery technology can be used to convert these hydrocarbons into fuels.
sunfire plans to produce the process gas required using efficient high-temperature steam electrolysis. The technique is still under development, but has the potential to increase overall process efficiency by between around 10% and 70% (i.e. 70% of the electrical energy used contributes to the calorific value of the fuel produced).
sunfire already builds power-to-liquids systems based on existing water electrolysis technology, with efficiency of around 55% achieved. Systems are set up to allow for the retrofitting of steam electrolysis modules and a corresponding increase in efficiency at a later date. Steam electrolysis is due to be available from 2016 onwards.
History of sunfire
The sunfire vision of taking water from the ocean and carbon dioxide from the air and using regenerative electricity to convert them into liquid fuels (power-to-liquids) and gases (power-to-gas) took shape over 20 years ago.
It was with this vision in mind that Dr. Bodo Wolf – the man who came up with the idea behind sunfire – founded CRG Kohlenstoffrecycling GmbH in Freiberg, Saxony, in 1995. The firm initially focused on CarboV® technology for the conversion of biomass to liquid fuels.
2008 saw these ideas revisited by a technical and commercial feasibility study carried out in cooperation with a German car manufacturer amongst other scientific and industrial partners. SOEC high-temperature steam electrolysis was identified as a key process component, with a laboratory system set up in order to determine its feasibility.
The founding of sunfire GmbH in 2010 saw the original vision take on a tangible form.
History of staxera
Work in the field of high-temperature solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) for the highly efficient conversion of a wide variety of liquid and gaseous fuels into electricity and heat (gas-to-power) has been carried out in Dresden since 1992.
It was from that time onwards that a working group at the Fraunhofer IKTS facility cooperated with a number of partners spread across a variety of projects in order to develop everything from individual components right up to complete stacks.
In 2002 Webasto AG decided to commence work on an on-board power supply for passenger vehicles and heavy goods vehicles based on a high-temperature solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). It was at this time that H.C. Starck began developing and manufacturing ceramic cell technology for SOFCs. A strategic partnership agreed between H.C. Starck and Webasto AG saw the companies push forward with the development of the SOFC stack – the heart of a fuel cell system – in cooperation with the Fraunhofer IKTS.
With SOFCs having been recognized as an optimum technology, 2002 saw Webasto AG begin an extensive development project in Neubrandenburg. The Fraunhofer IKTS was involved as a cooperation partner right from the start of the project.
The founding of staxera in 2005 heralded the start of the next phase of technological development and a step towards the commercialization of stack technology. The firm has provided SOFCs to a variety of international customers since 2006, and is the world’s first SOFC manufacturer to sell its products with a guarantee and without a non-disclosure agreement.
It was in 2011 that the founders of sunfire recognized the staxera team’s excellent potential in the development and production of fuel cells and electrolyzers – the core components of the power-to-liquid and power-to-gas methods. It was clear that a combination of this expertise and the knowledge held by sunfire’s employees would form a strong unit and support the market entry of both technologies. The logical course of action was to merge sunfire and staxera as equal partners.
Since 2011 staxera stack technology has been used in Vaillaint appliances involved in the Callux field testing programme being carried out by NIP.
2012 witnessed the legal merger of the two companies to form sunfire GmbH, which has its headquarters in Dresden, Saxony. The staxera brand (including all related products) has been retained.