Carbon Capture Energy

118: e-crude


Regular hydrocarbon diesel pollutes.


Oil created from recycled carbon dioxide, water, and electricity with a process powered by renewable energy sources.

E-diesel is considered to be a carbon-neutral fuel as it does not extract new carbon and the energy sources to drive the process are from carbon-neutral sources

From the early 2000s, Nils Aldag, Carl Berninghausen and Christian von Olshausen began to research into sustainable diesel. Electrolysers are energy converters that turn clean electrons into hydrogen.

They founded Sunfire GmbH in Dresden in 2009. Inspired by photosynthesis, Sunfire’s proprietary technology can be used to turn hydrogen efficiently into liquid hydrocarbons such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel or waxes for the chemical industry (power-to-products). Alternatively, hydrogen can be used in the industry or H2-mobility.

Sunfire achieved the technological breakthrough within the framework of the Kopernikus project Power-to-X, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), in conjunction with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

A co-electrolysis plant (10 kilowatts DC, up to 4 Nm³/h synthesis gas) was delivered to Karlsruhe, where it was combined with technologies from Climeworks (Direct Air Capture), INERATEC (Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis) and KIT (Hydrocracking) in a container to produce a self-sufficient facility.

The target was to demonstrate the integrated production of e-Crude by the end of August 2019. Already by 2017 Sunfire had produced 3 tons (2.7 tonnes) of Blue Crude.

Concept proved, Sunfire began the process of scaling-up the high-temperature co-electrolysis process to an industrial scale—initially with an input power of 150 kW (DC)—as part of the “SynLink” project funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy.

The plant was built in Norway for use by Nordic Blue Crude, the Norwegian project partner. By 2020, using 20 MW of input power, it will be producing 2.6 million gallons (10 million liters) or 8,800 tons (8,000 tonnes) of the synthetic crude oil substitute e-Crude annually on the basis of 20 MWs of input power.

The Bavarian car firm Audi and the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, are both project partners. Prominent investors include the French oil company Total, the Czech energy company ČEZ and the investment funds Electranova Capital and Bilfinger Venture Capital; insurance giant Allianz and automobile maker PSA are also sponsors.

The plant would avoid emissions of around 21,000 t/y of CO₂ by using waste industrial heat and renewable energy. Sunfire has been able to attract prominent investors such as Total Energy Ventures, Electranova Capital, IdInvest and KfW Bank. (

Tomorrow’s solution: Edible cutlery

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