RIS3CAT CoSin: synthetic fuels - Naturgy - About us

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RIS3CAT CoSin: synthetic fuels


CoSin is a project by the RIS3CAT Energy Community, created by the Regional Government of Catalonia through ACCIO, which includes industrial research projects, experimental development and innovation aimed at driving the energy sector towards a more  sustainable and efficient model.

The objective of the CoSin project is to develop synthetic fuels that enable them to be stored chemically, to overcome the challenge presented with large-scale renewable energies

The priority of this project to use biogenically-sourced carbon is framed within a circular economy in the area of CO2 contributing to environmental improvements and the reduction in CO2 emissions. It also contemplates the possible use of additional carbon sources, such as forest biomass, slurries or sewage sludge, which provide added social and environmental value.

On the one hand, the project's efforts focus on the design, construction and experimental operation of a prototype plant that will integrate biomethane production, by separating CO2 and CH4 from biogas, and by transforming the CO2 of the biogas itself or the biomethane into a gas rich in methane (> 98%) through a controlled reaction with hydrogen, from water electrolysis.
On the other hand, more efficient systems will be developed for obtaining hydrogen from high-temperature electrolysis or from the co-electrolysis of H2O and CO2 to obtain controlled mixtures of H2 and CO as input elements for different chemical synthesis routes.

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Naturgy participation

This is a project led by Naturgy, acting as the consortium coordinator, responsible for designing the online monitoring system for the prototype plant for biogas enrichment and CO2 methanisation, as well as for studying the characteristics and final uses of the biomethane.

The consortium is made up of 7 other entities including companies, technology centres and a university, based in Catalonia.

Participación de Naturgy

Technologies used

The CoSin project proposes an innovative process for transforming the biogas generated by the anaerobic digestion of sludge from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) into biomethane with the necessary quality required to be injected into the natural gas network.

The process consists of the cleaning and purification of biogas generated during anaerobic digestion, a subsequent stage of CO2 enrichment or separation and a pilot methanation plant for producing CH4 from separated CO2 or directly from the purified biogas, thus maximising the production of biomethane.

Proceso de transformación del biogás
The project is structured into three technological blocks which constitute the process for synthesising fuels, methane and other value-added products, from biogenic carbon.

The main objective of this block is to validate the technical and economic viability of the biogas conversion generated in the wastewater treatment plants into biomethane through enrichment processes.

The biogas enrichment or upgrading process consists in separating its two main components, CH4 and CO2, in such a way that almost pure methane CH4 is obtained, with a calorific value that is significantly higher than that of the raw biogas, and which can be compatible with the uses of natural gas when it meets the quality requirements set out in the regulations.

In order for this validation to be carried out, a biogas enrichment plant prototype will be built and operated in a wastewater treatment plant. It will include a first phase of biogas cleaning where the main pollutants will be eliminated and a second separation phase where the CO2 will be separated from the biomethane and sent to the methanation unit.
Electrolysers and co-electrolysers.
The main objective of this block is to develop a generation system for converting electricity into hydrogen and syngas for generating synthetic fuels through catalytic reaction.  High temperature electrolysis (Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cells, SOEC) technology is used for producing hydrogen and syngas. This technology offers high efficiencies (> 90%), a dynamic operational regime (that can be coupled to renewables) and high production rates (> 10 kA/m2 of injected current i> 200 mol H2/h·m2). It must be noted that co-electrolysis technology for generating synthesis gas (H2/CO) from H2O and CO2 is currently in a research and development phase.
CO2 Methanation
In this block, a prototype or experimental methanation plant will be implemented in order to allow the technical and economic feasibility of this technology for producing synthetic fuels, essentially methane.

The prototype will be fed with CO2 from the biogas enrichment plant, and CO2 methanation will be performed using a CO2 reducing thermo-catalytic reaction, according to the Sabatier reaction (CO2 + 4 H2 -> CH4 + 2 H2O).

In the CO2 methanation prototype plant, plans have been made to integrate various technologies for monitoring the composition of the process gases, as well as the coupling of the new high-temperature electrolysis technology and the testing of new catalysts in order to optimise operational and maintenance costs.

Within this block, an experimental system of a plasma DBD catalytic reactor at a laboratory scale will be designed and built to validate the plasma methanation technology.
  • Objectives

     Produce synthetic fuels and related chemical processes, from biogenically-sourced carbon, or through the reuse of carbon dioxide, and/or water.

     Develop an alternative for synthetic gases as large-scale energy storage elements that facilitate greater intensity when it comes to introducing and using renewable energies.

     Improve the efficiency of the water and CO2 electrolysis and co-electrolysis processes for obtaining hydrogen and syngas as precursor elements of the synthesis processes for combustible gases and liquids.

     To be an international benchmark in terms of technological knowledge and development in the area of synthetic fuels from carbon and water.

  • Advantages

     Contribution to the development of renewable energies, offering an alternative for storing these energies, through chemical energy storage.

     Contribution to a circular economy in the area of CO2 emissions through the effective reduction of CO2 by using it in a closed biogenically-sourced carbon loop.

     Contribution to an environmental improvement by taking advantage of residual biomass (sewage sludges, slurries, etc.) as a source of carbon for producing synthetic fuels.

     Development of new business opportunities for new products, components and technologies with high added value.

     Contribution to the energy interconnection between electricity and gas networks promoting new opportunities, projects and energy models.

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