Hydrogen as energy carrier

SPOTLIGHT

Duration: 1.1.2021 – 30.6.2024

With solar irradiated catalysts (faster) to synthetic energy sources

The chemical compounds methane (CH4) and methanol (CH4O) can be used as fuels and as a source of energy, or they can serve as basic materials for the chemical industry. Since they are compatible with the existing energy infrastructure, they are particularly well suited to replacing fossil fuels in the areas mentioned. In the EU project SPOTLIGHT, researchers from DLR's Institute of Future Fuels are working with scientists from 12 other European research institutes on a process for producing methane and carbon monoxide (CO), a starting product of methanol, from green hydrogen (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and concentrated sunlight. In addition, the consortium is also investigating the incorporation of artificial light to allow the process to operate continuously.

Compact design

The catalyst material used in SPOTLIGHT (a plasmonic catalyst) can use almost the entire spectrum of sunlight, in contrast to otherwise common semiconductor catalysts. It is therefore possible to dimension the plants more compactly. Due to the resulting higher economic efficiency, the technology is also interesting for commercial plants.

In the SPOTLIGHT experimental setup, a so-called flux guide redirects the concentrated sunlight so that the radiation hits the transparent reactor as uniform as possible. To ensure that the reactor can produce methane or carbon monoxide continuously - even at night and when it is cloudy - scientists are also investigating artificial irradiation with light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Diagram of the SPOTLIGHT experimental setup
In the EU project SPOTLIGHT, researchers from DLR's Institute of Future Fuels are working with scientists from 12 other European research institutes on a process for producing methane and carbon monoxide (CO), a starting product of methanol, from green hydrogen (H₂), carbon dioxide (CO₂) and concentrated sunlight.

Demonstration and techno-economic studies

In this project, DLR is developing the customised flux guide for the transparent reactor in solar and LED operation and is coordinating the development of the individual reactor components with the project partners. The reactor concept is being demonstrated in DLR's high-flux density solar furnace in Cologne. Furthermore, researchers from DLR are supporting the investigation of the economic potential and environmental impact of the technology in techno-economic and ecological studies. Successful implementation of the concept on a laboratory scale can serve as a basis for further scaling, so that future plants can potentially use CO2 in quantities of up to one million tons per year.

The technology developed in SPOTLIGHT complements large-scale carbon capture and utilization (CCU) processes and offers the potential to recycle up to 800 million tons of CO2 per year. This is equivalent to about 18 percent of the EU's total CO2 emissions.

Project

SPOTLIGHT

Duration

1.1.2021 – 30.6.2024

Website

https://www.spotlight-project.eu/

Project participants

Funding

On the initiative of the Photonics Public Private Partnership, www.photonics21.org, funded by the European Commission, EU funding programme Horizon 2020, funding number 101015960

Contact

Dr.-Ing. Martina Neises-von Puttkamer

Head of Department
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Future Fuels
Solar process demonstration
Im Langenbroich 13, 52428 Jülich
Germany

Dennis Thomey

Head of Department
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Future Fuels
Solar process demonstration
Im Langenbroich 13, 52428 Jülich
Germany