How Power-to-X works

Copyright by the International PtX Hub. Inspired by nova Institute (2020): nova-paper #12 on Renewable Carbon 2020-09

Power-to-X – how does it work? 

PtX is the process of converting renewable electricity, from wind and sun, but also from hydro or geo-thermal power plants, into a wide variety (X) of end products. It starts with producing  hydrogen in electrolysers using renewable electricity to split water (H2O) into its components hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). These elements can then either be used directly or can be processed further in PtX synthesis units.

In Haber-Bosch synthesis, hydrogen is combined with nitrogen (N2) and converted into ammonia (NH3), a key feedstock for fertiliser production, but also used in chemical industry or possibly as fuel in maritime shipping.

In Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, hydrogen is combined with carbon monoxide (CO) to form all kinds of hydrocarbons, or a kind of synthetic crude oil often called syn-crude. Further processed, the syn-crude can be turned into specific products, such as Jet-fuel for aircrafts (Power-to-Liquid, PtL). In order to be carbon neutral, the carbon used should either stem from non-fossil, renewable sources, such as direct air capture (DAC) and biogenic sources, or be recycled from unavoidable  industrial point sources (Carbon-Capture and Use, CCU). 

The conversion of renewable energy into synthetic fuels and other chemicals will finally allow the use of green energy for shipping and aviation as well as the chemical and cosmetics industry.

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