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To-Syn-Fuel project produces sustainable biofuels

To-Syn-Fuel project produces sustainable biofuels
The pilot demonstration plant for the To-Syn-Fuel project in Markt Hohenburg, district of Amberg-Sulzbach, Germany (photo courtesy Fraunhofer UMSICHT).

The five-year Horizon 2020 To-Syn-Fuel project, which ended in September 2022, is demonstrating a sustainable process that can transform waste biomass, such as dried sewage sludge into high-quality renewable liquid fuels and green hydrogen.

Biogenic residues, hydrogen-rich syngas, biochar, and bio-oil are processed by the assembled demonstrator working plant with the Thermo-Catalytic Reforming (TCR) technology implemented in a new process integrated with hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) and pressure swing adsorption (PSA) technologies.

The final phase of the To-Syn-Fuel project is the integrated operation of the systems and the production of liquid fuels and green hydrogen from sewage sludge.

Successful outcome

According to a statement, long-term testing campaigns with TCR have shown a very satisfying performance.

Within over 1 500 operation hours more than 500 tonnes of dried sewage sludge have been converted into over 50 000 litres of TCR-oil. The yield and the quality of the products achieved are within expectations.

Concerning the overall efficiency of the plant, it is known from pre-tests of small-scale experiments that up to 90 percent of the energy can be transferred from the feedstock to the products and that around 10 percent of energy from feedstock is needed as heating energy.

Current project activities comprise the distillation of the upgraded TCR-oil to produce gasoline and diesel fractions.

This project is a showcase for future sustainable investment across Europe since a broad range of feedstocks can be processed: not only sewage sludge but also other biogenic residues, like biowaste, digestate from anaerobic digestion, etc. This demonstration is really a first-of-its-kind perspective, said Dr.-Ing. Robert Daschner, Head of the Renewable Energy Department at Fraunhofer UMSICHT and Project Management Officer.

As To-Syn-Fuel is designed to set the benchmark for future sustainable development within Europe, by providing a valuable example of renewable fuels and green hydrogen production to the rest of the world, while successfully addressing energy, environmental, economic, and social needs, stakeholders’ surveys and promotional initiatives to engage industry are being deployed.


About To-Syn-Fuel

To-Syn-Fuel is a Horizon 2020-funded project, under the program for biofuels and renewable fuels, coordinated by Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology (Fraunhofer UMSICHT) in Germany.

The project has a total duration of 65 months from May 2017 to September 2022 and a financial volume of EUR 14.5 million in funding.

The consortium with 11 partner organizations has brought together some of the leading researchers, industrial technology providers, and renewable energy experts from across Europe, in a collaborative, committed, and dedicated research effort to deliver the overarching ambition.

Partners include Engie Services Netherlands NV, HyGear Technology and Services BV (The Netherlands), Fraunhofer UMSICHT, Verfahrenstechnik Schwedt GmbH, Martech GmbH (Germany), Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna, Eni SpA, ETA–Florence Renewable Energies (Italy), University of Birmingham, WRG Europe Ltd (UK) and LEITAT (Spain).

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