Rolls Pledges Synthetic Fuels Demonstration Plant

By Jack Burke16 August 2019

Rolls-Royce said it will support research into green fuels in the Lausitz region of eastern Germany together with the state of Brandenburg, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus and other industrial partners.

The intention is to set up a power-to-x competence center at the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg and to construct a demonstration plant for the production of synthetic fuels and chemical substances using electric power generated in photovoltaic and wind power plants. As a former coal and chemical region, the Lausitz region has a wealth of expertise available that can be used to set up a power-to-x competence center, the company said.

A letter of intent that was signed by Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems, on behalf of Rolls-Royce. The letter of intent was presented by the Federal Minister for the Environment Svenja Schulze and Brandenburg’s Minister-President Dietmar Woidke in Cottbus.

“Synthetic fuels are a decisive factor in energy transition and the use of renewable energies,” Schell said. “They are an essential element in the urgently needed sector coupling – the close interconnecting of the individual parts of the energy system, such as electricity and mobility, for example, in addition to heating and cooling. In other words, we will be electrifying the entire system for propulsion and energy purposes, including the fuel, by producing it with renewable energies in a climate neutral manner.”

Dr. Petar Pelemis, head of Strategy and Product Management at the Rolls-Royce Power Systems business, said Power-to-x fuels not only replace fossil fuels, they can also be easily stored and transported.

“With such fuels, we will be able to provide propulsion and power generation on a CO2 neutral basis, as we outlined in our Green and High-Tech programme under the heading decarbonization,” Pelemis said.

Rolls-Royce said it is interested in using synthetic fuels in gas and diesel engines and in aircraft engines and also wants to contribute its experience and expertise to the project as a provider of complete power generation solutions.

Operating a future power-to-x demonstration plant is a way of obtaining information on the use of synthetic fuels for mobility on land, water and in the air, and on the generation of heat and power, and what the carbon footprint of such a process looks like, the company said.

Other signatories to the letter of intent include the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the chemical company BASF, the Lufthansa Group and the electrolysis specialist Sunfire.

Brandenburg and Rolls-Royce share a long-standing partnership. In July of this year, Rolls-Royce Germany presented details of its collaboration with the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg on the research and development of hybrid–electric power and propulsion systems for the aviation sector.

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