Leuna 100: Continuous production of e-methanol through homogeneously catalyzed synthesis gas conversion

At a glance

  • Decarbonization of the transport sector is not technically possible with battery solutions alone.
  • It is not yet possible to produce sufficient quantities of alternative green fuels for HGV traffic, shipping, and aviation such as e-methanol cost-efficiently.
  • The Leuna 100 project is developing an e-methanol process chain which couples the innovative technologies and demonstrates their long-term and load-flexible operation under temporal variability of raw material availability and quality.
  • Among other tasks, Fraunhofer IWES is making the technical infrastructure at the Hydrogen Lab Leuna available, is responsible for the connection of the raw material sources, and is evaluating the load flexibility of the individual components.


The challenge

The reduction of CO2 emissions is essential if the climate goals of the Paris Agreement are to be achieved. Legal requirements from the EU and the German government therefore also stipulate binding reduction targets for the transport sector. In contrast to light vehicles, which can be powered by batteries, however, this solution is not technically feasible for HGV traffic, aircraft, or ships in the foreseeable future. Climate-neutral fuels such as methanol produced from green hydrogen and CO2 represent an alternative solution. However, e-methanol is not yet scalable and cannot be produced cost-efficiently, as the process technology as a whole is not yet ready for market ramp-up.


The solution

In the Leuna 100 project, the project partners are developing a coupled process chain linking the innovative individual technologies to allow e-methanol to be produced from CO2 and H2 cost-efficiently even on a large scale. The innovations concern all steps of the process chain from raw material preparation to synthesis gas production up to methanol production. In this way, a new, homogeneously catalyzed process for the conversion of synthesis gas (carbon monoxide CO + H2) into methanol is to be employed as well as the prototype of a novel low-temperature CO electrolysis system.

At the Hydrogen Lab Leuna, Fraunhofer IWES is developing the connection of the two raw material sources hydrogen and CO2 as well as further infrastructure at the institute’s own test site. In addition, Fraunhofer IWES is evaluating the load flexibility of the individual components of the process chain and designing the associated, higher-level control concept in close cooperation with the project partners.


The added value

The establishment of a complete process chain as well as the transferability of the processes to sufficiently many and large sustainable raw material sources is decisive for a fast market ramp-up of many power-to-X technologies. The focus of Leuna 100 is thus on coupling the individual processes and demonstrating long-term and load-flexible operation under temporal variability of raw material availability and quality. In view of the already emerging increase in demand for e-methanol, especially among shipping companies, Leuna 100 is set to make a key contribution to the decarbonization of the transport sector.

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