Week 12/2020

Extracting fuel from the air

Some of the energy from wind turbines can be used to produce the raw material CO2
Some of the energy from wind turbines can be used to produce the raw material CO2
The goal is clear: by 2050, aviation wants to fly climate-neutral. To achieve this, the industry is working intensively on disruptive innovations. Synthetic fuels will make a significant contribution – for example, from CO2 as a raw material. The Hamburg-based company Spitzner Engineers is currently developing a new technology to deploy wind turbines not only to generate renewable electricity but at the same time to collect carbon dioxide from the air and use it, for example, to produce fuels.

The technology from Spitzner bears the name Blancair. The idea: Wind turbines used for electricity generation suck in air, filter out CO2 and store it. For this purpose, an opening is located at the tips of the rotor blades that causes suction and guides the air into the nacelle. There, a collector adsorbs the CO2. The greenhouse gas is then stored temporarily for further use, and the CO2-free air is returned to the environment via the rotor blades. The effect on the atmosphere is comparable to the restoration of forests.

Video Blancair

Climate-neutral fuel

Most important: High amounts of energy are needed to separate CO2 from the air. By exploiting synergies, these can be made available by the wind turbine without negatively affecting its power generation. The CO2 recovered from the atmosphere can be converted into climate-neutral methane right at the wind turbine using the so-called power-to-liquid process. The processes required for this are also powered with green electricity by the plant.

The methane can then be used directly – or provide the basis for the production of fuels. For example, offshore wind farms could be conceivable, in which not only electricity but also fuel is produced and which serve as filling stations for ships. If further developed, such a plant could also be used to produce synthetic kerosene for aviation.

In addition to the climate and air and sea transport – whose CO2 footprints are reduced by PtL fuels from the wind turbines – wind energy plants also benefit from this: the wind turbines operate more efficiently, as the rotor blades are optimized for the new Blancair technology. In addition, the airflow inside the rotor blades can increase their service life and thus reduce maintenance costs.

The Blancair technology will be installed as a prototype in an existing industrial plant in Hamburg and is expected to be tested at the end of 2020.