Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has developed a microstructured, chemical reactor which will be a key component of a plant planned to be built in Finland to produce renewable fuels using solar power.

The development is part of Soletair project, which aims to produce synthetic fuels from solar energy and carbon dioxide extracted from air.

Ineratec, a spinoff of KIT, in cooperation with Finnish partners, have initiated the Soletair project and now plan to take into operation the first chemical pilot plant worldwide.

The compact reactor, which is now being commercialized by Ineratec, is designed to convert methane-containing gases into liquid synthetic fuels of highest quality.

The reactor can also be placed into a ship container and produce gasoline, diesel, and kerosene from regenerative hydrogen and CO2.

The demonstration plant will feature Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT)-developed direct air capture unit which extracts carbon dioxide from air.

It is also integrated with an electrolysis unit developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) designed to produce the required hydrogen using solar power.

Planned to be built at on the LUT campus in Finland, the plant will be used to assess processes which would allow production of e, fuels and chemicals using renewable electricity.

KIT innovation and international affairs vice president professor Thomas Hirth said: “Projects, such as Soletair, are essential for the success of the energy turnaround.”

Planned to be completed in 2018, the Soletair project is backed by €1m funding from the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes).

 Image: The KIT’s new chemicals reactor can covert gases into liquid synthetic fuels. Photo courtesy of INERATEC/KIT.