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ēQATOR 1st Short Public Summary

What has happened so far: An update on project activities and achievements within the first 18 months

What the consortium set out to do:

ēQATOR partners have joined forces to develop new and improved technologies to turn biogas into syngas more efficiently compared to current methods. Syngas is a valuable substance needed to make products like methanol. ēQATOR’s central innovation comprises improved catalysts and reactors combined with two electrical heating technologies: resistive heating (RH) and microwave heating (MWH).

Conventional syngas production involves large-volume reactors with fired burners that use fossil carbon feedstocks. By employing compact, electrically heated reactors, ēQATOR reduces reactor size (up to 90%) and volume of catalysts (50-75%), as well as resorting to renewable carbon sources instead of fossil fuels.

The overall goal is to make syngas production more efficient and environmentally friendly. Implementation of the ēQATOR technology is expected to decrease CO2 emissions in syngas production by 60-80 %, leading to substantial savings of CO2 emissions over the years. By 2030, savings could amount to 7Mt CO2/year, up to around 45 Mt CO2/year in 2045, leading to a total CO2 emissions savings of at least 330 Mt by 2045.

What has been achieved by 2024:

Within the first 18 months of the project, ēQATOR partners have developed a catalyst for the dry reforming of biogas to syngas, which meets all necessary criteria and is the current choice to use on appropriate supports for the RH and MWH applications.

For RH, the support will be a ceramic honeycomb. Respective suitable honeycombs have been developed, as well as measures to control the amount of electricity to - and therefore the temperature of - the honeycomb. A model for the MWH reactor has been created.

Two different process schemes with simulations have been completed. The dry reforming scheme was developed for biogas produced from the organic fraction of municipal solid waste; the mixed reforming scheme was developed for biogas produced from manure.

As the basis for assessing the sustainability of the developed solutions, the overall scope, general definitions and settings and the system description have been determined. The first rough greenhouse gas (GHG) balance shows that emissions from biogas, electricity for the syngas reactor and H2 production are the important contributions. Electricity production appears to be decisive when it comes to emissions. In the short term (2030), it is unclear whether GHG emissions can be reduced compared to state-of-the-art methanol production, but for the time being, there seems to be an advantage. With fully renewable electricity by 2050, there are clear benefits over the state-of-the-art, but this will depend on electricity grid stabilization and the role of biogas in it.

All in all, first results have been achieved and several steps taken towards the project’s goal. A reactor design for the RH heater can at this point be envisioned and the production of resistively heated ceramic honeycombs and the ability to control their temperature is encouraging for a successful demonstration towards the end of the project.


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