BLOG: ALIGN-CCUS partners join RWE for launch of CCU demonstrator at Niederaussem

By Lydia Rycroft, TNO

On the 19 November ALIGN-CCUS celebrated the inauguration of the new CCU demonstrator at RWE’s Innovation Centre in Niederaussem. Following two years of development RWE are now close to finalising the commissioning of the dimethyl ether (DME) synthesis plant, which will produce DME fuel from the utilisation of carbon dioxide (CO2).  

Liquefied DME has a high energy density and can be burned as liquified petroleum gas, or LPG. Due to its chemical properties, it combusts without soot formation and allows reduction of NOx emissions from diesel engines. More details can be found on the design of new demonstrator in a previous blog-post here.

The inauguration ceremony began with an introduction from Dr Hans-Christoph Wirth from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, who highlighted the need for a sustainable energy transition in Europe.

Dr Wirth emphasised that “energy policy cannot be separated from climate policy” and, with energy considered a fundamental human right in Europe, the transition to cleaner energy production must also be done in a cost-effective manner.

Peter Moser, RWE’s Head of Emission Reduction Technologies, welcomed the ALIGN-CCUS project consortium to the demonstration plant and gave an update on the commissioning process. The ceremony concluded with a tour of the new facilities, demonstrating the technical developments that have been undertaken through ALIGN-CCUS and the research and developments that would be achieved through the DME demonstrator.

The demonstrator will begin testing soon and, once the results of the CCU pilot testing and product applications become available, Forschungszentrum Jülich will complete full life-cycle assessments (LCAs) of DME production and use. The outcomes of these assessments will provide much needed empirical evidence on environmental performance of this CCU route, in particular the CO2 savings potential.

ALIGN-CCUS followed the inauguration ceremony with a two-day general consortium meeting, which brought together members of the project’s work package teams. The meeting featured technical sessions covering ongoing and future work.

Some of the ALIGN-CCUS research has already been published and is available on the ALIGN-CCUS website, with the CO2 storage component almost complete. Other areas are just beginning, including some areas of research still to be undertaken into CO2 re-use.

Work is still ongoing on capture, transport, the development of industrial clusters and implementing CCUS in society, although some reports are already available.

With less than one year to go on this three-year project, the ALIGN-CCUS consortium is excited to be drawing all of its research to productive conclusions in the coming months. The partners are also looking forward to a range of dissemination activities in 2020 as work concludes – so keep an eye on our website!