Potentials of Power-to-Liquid fuels in aviation
If produced from renewable electricity and abundant CO2 captured from air, Power-to-Liquid (PtL) fuels could enable the aviation sector to substantially reduce its environmental footprint. This is a key message of a background study recently conducted by Bauhaus Luftfahrt in collaboration with Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik and on behalf of the German Environment Agency. PtL-based fuel production comprises three main steps: 1) Hydrogen generation from renewable electricity through electrolysis of water; 2) Provision of renewable CO2 and its conversion along with the produced hydrogen; 3) Synthesis of liquid hydrocarbons with subsequent upgrading and refining. PtL fuels can be produced using established industrial-scale processes. However, full system integration of the individual process steps is subject to ongoing work and still requires further R&D efforts.
PtL-derived jet fuel is drop-in capable. The key challenge for short-term deployment is disadvantageously high cost of production. The main advantage of PtL fuels, however, is the huge potential of wind and solar power exceeding the total global energy demand of today and the future. The environmental benefits of PtL fuels produced from renewable feedstock (electricity, CO2, and water) are evident, with a low carbon footprint, negligible water demand, and much lower land requirements compared to biofuels.
The background study on PtL fuels can be downloaded from the German Environment Agency website: http://bit.ly/2cowOyf
- PtL water demand compared to selected biofuels: PtL fuels production from renewable electricity is characterised by negligible specific water consumption in relation to various biofuel production pathways.
- Achievable air mileage for an A320neo per hectare of land: High area-specific yields: Land requirement for PtL fuels production is far lower compared to biofuels relying on natural photosynthetic energy conversion.