CCU demonstrator takes shape at RWE Niederaussem

The ALIGN-CCUS project’s CCU demonstration plant has begun to take shape at RWE’s Innovation Centre at Niederaussem, in Germany, with the installation of Asahi-Kasei’s alkaline electrolyser.

This unique demonstrator, which will produce dimethyl ether, or DME, from carbon dioxide (CO2), water and renewable electricity, has been developed over the last two years by ALIGN-CCUS project partners from Germany and the Netherlands.

Up to 50kg of DME per day will be produced from 180kg of CO2 and 22kg hydrogen using an innovative one-step DME synthesis process supplied by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Europe.

The hydrogen will be provided by a 140kW alkaline electrolyser provided by Asahi-Kasei, and the CO2 feedstock will be supplied onsite by RWE Niederaussem’s existing post-combustion capture plant, which captures CO2 from the power station’s flue gases.

Electricity from renewable sources used in the synthesis of the DME will be provided via chemical energy storage, which has a high-energy density.

DME is virtually soot-free when burned due to its chemical properties and it also allows the reduction of NOx emissions from diesel engines that have been adapted for operation with DME.  

It can be combusted in engines during lull periods in renewable power to provide electricity and can also serve as a fuel in the transport sector and feedstock for the chemical industry. This means that the cross-sectoral recycling of carbon can contribute to climate protection and security of supply.

The end of the commissioning of the DME synthesis plant is planned for mid-November 2019, with the intention that DME will be used as fuel for peak power generation with an electrical output of up to 240 kilowatts from the start of 2020.