CARE-O-SENE takes stage at Zeit für Klima

The pressing question of whether sustainable aviation is achievable took center stage at the recentZeit für Klimaevent under the motto "Aviation and Climate Neutrality: Can We Fly Sustainably?” in Frankfurt.

The event brought together experts from various fields to discuss innovative solutions for a greener future. Among the notable contributors was Dr. Tobias Sontheimer, co-lead of the #CAREOSENE consortium, who shared his insights on the path towards climate-neutral aviation.

During the panel discussion titled “Innovative Technologies and Quick Wins on the Way to Climate-Neutral Aviation,” Dr Tobias Sontheimer delved into the role of innovative catalyst technologies in the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). He explained how these catalysts are crucial in minimizing resource consumption during fuel production. “The existing fleet of aircraft will need to be supplied with fuel for several more decades,” Sontheimer noted, emphasizing the need for efficient and sustainable fuel solutions. “At the same time, the blending rates of SAF will change significantly over the next few years, necessitating advancements in fuel technology.”

The panelists highlighted the key role of SAF for decarbonizing the aviation sector and stressed the importance of international projects such as CARE-O-SENE to accelerate innovation cycles and the speed up commercialization. It was common sense between all panelists to achieve or even exceed these SAF blending mandates. “To achieve this”, stated Tobias Sontheimer, “we do not have the time to allow ourselves development cycles of 10 to 15 years. We have to scale the production of SAF short-term”, which the CARE-O-SENE project is aiming for.

The event was also a great networking opportunity, which allowed, Dr Dirk Schär, the other co-lead, to highlight the mission of CARE-O-SENE, that aims to contribute to making sustainable flying more cost-effective. The consortium’s research and innovations in catalyst technology are poised to play a pivotal role in the energy transition within the aviation sector. By enhancing the efficiency and reducing the environmental impact of SAF production, CARE-O-SENE is setting the stage for a future where flying can be both eco-friendly and economically viable.

The discussion at “Zeit für Klima” underscored the urgency and feasibility of transitioning to sustainable aviation practices.

Unlocking the Future of Sustainable Aviation Fuel: Insights from Dr Dirk Schaer on FT Technology, New Catalysts, and Geothermal Energy

After his recent presentation at the 5th Iceland Geothermal Conference (IGC2024), Dr Dirk Schaer, Technical Manager of Marketing and Sales Catalysts at Sasol Germany and co-lead of the CARE-O-SENE project, took time to answer three questions. He explained why the combination of Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology and geothermal energy is ideal for the economically efficient production of sustainable aviation fuel, especially when the new catalysts developed by the German-South African CARE-O-SENE project are used:

What are the primary advantages that FT technology delivers in SAF production?

Fischer-Tropsch technology stands out in SAF production due to several key advantages over alternatives:

First, FT is commercially proven and a widely used technology.

Secondly, it’s feedstock agnostic. FT technology is remarkably versatile, capable of utilizing various feedstocks efficiently.

Thirdly, it produces the highest kerosene yields, which ensures optimal utilization of limited renewable resources and has the highest GHG elimination potential.

Finally, the FT-derived route to jet fuel is already ASTM approved and Sasol have many years’ of experience in production, marketing and working with aviation authorities.

Why is it important to develop new catalysts for SAF production?

Today, we face two primary obstacles to producing SAF at scale. SAF requires a substantial amount of energy to manufacture, and more efficient FT catalysts can help us reduce those requirements – making SAF both less expensive and more sustainable.

We also need to decrease the dependence on precious metals and cobalt in the production process, and advanced catalysts can help here, too. Mitigating the need for these elements will help address concerns related to resource scarcity and cost fluctuations.

Why is the combination of FT and geothermal energy sources so beneficial?

The integration of FT technology with geothermal energy sources offers compelling advantages.

Chemical processes, including the FT process, often face challenges with dynamic operations, necessitating intermediate storage. Geothermal energy – by the way also hydropower – provides a stable energy source, circumventing these operational hurdles.

This results in significant lower investment costs and further to this reduced operational stress, positively influencing the catalyst lifetime, contributing to the overall sustainability and viability of SAF production.

CARE-O-SENE at the 13th Natural Gas Conversion Symposium in China

CARE-O-SENE at the 13th Natural Gas Conversion Symposium in China

CARE-O-SENE in China: At the end of April, CARE-O-SENE members attended the 13th Natural Gas Conversion Symposium (NGCS13) in Xiamen, China along with 800 other scientists. Under the theme "Towards Carbon Neutrality", the symposium shared insights on science, materials and technology related to natural gas, carbon dioxide and hydrogen, in line with advanced catalyst preparation, characterisation, modelling, data analysis approaches and industrial applications in over 180 talks.

Cherie Hsu presented "Preparation of model catalyst systems to optimise sustainable aviation fuel production via Fischer-Tropsch" and won the "Best Oral Presentation Award" among 10 presenters – congratulations!

Dr Dan Zhao presented "Tracking the metal-support interaction of size-selected Co3O4 nanoparticles as model catalysts for Fischer-Tropsch synthesis by in-situ XAS".

CARE-O-SENE's Denzil Moodley is part of the Board of the Natural Gas Conversion Symposium and Michael Claeys has been re-elected as Secretary of the Natural Gas Conversion Board.

CARE-O-SENE Research Consortium meets in South Africa for Mid-Term Conference

CARE-O-SENE Research Consortium meets in South Africa for Mid-Term Conference

Featuring the motto ‘Flightpath to Sustainability: A CARE-O-SENE symposium on catalysis for aviation fuel’, German and South African scientists from the CARE-O-SENE research consortium met in early March to discuss the status of their respective work packages as well as new ideas and approaches.

‘This was a milestone event for CARE-O-SENE,’ said Dr Dirk Schär, Technical Manager Marketing and Sales at Sasol and Co-lead of the CARE-O-SENE programme, who also chaired the first conference session. ‘CARE-O-SENE is as much about the results as it is about the exchange of ideas, approaches, and best practices across the globe. Facilitating this as part of our scheduled ‘halfway meeting’ sparked a lot of thoughts for everyone present and will likely yield further research and application ideas in the months and years to come.’

Several consortium members presented findings on project progress over the course of two days from March 4th to 5th. Invited speakers also provided an external perspective to round off the thought exchange during the conference, including the presentations ‘Syngas generation from renewable feedstocks’ by Thomas Christensen, Topsoe, and ‘Green H2 and PtX perspectives: Globally and for South Africa’ by Brett Cohen on behalf of the the German Development Cooperation (GIZ).

A three-hour session on the second day of the conference gave room to promising academic talents: In a number of 10-minute research pitches, students associated with CARE-O-SENE got an opportunity to present their ideas and results. Empowering and educating young talents is an integral part and parcel of CARE-O-SENE’s remit, with a special focus on the international as well as industrial-institutional exchange between the members of the community.

The official programme was followed by intensive work package meetings. In addition to this, time was also set aside to allow the participants of the CARE-O-SENE Mentoring Programme to engage in their various chosen settings. Taking advantage of the opportunity to meet in person and directly exchange ideas, experiences and advice proved highly useful and added yet another substantial benefit to the event.

Partner News: CARE-O-SENE at special conference for East German Minister Presidents

From left to right: Bernd Rech (Scientific Director, HZB), Michael Kretschmer (Minister-President of Saxony), Manuela Schwesig (Minister-President of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), Dietmar Woidke (Minister-President of Brandenburg), Reiner Haseloff (Minister-President of Saxony-Anhalt), Bettina Stark-Watzinger (Federal Minister of Education and Research), Florian Graf (Head of the Berlin Senate Chancellery) and Malte Krückels (Representative of the Free State of Thuringia to the Federal Government). Picture: HZB / M. Setzpfandt

Partner News: CARE-O-SENE at special conference for East German Minister Presidents

On 19 October, CARE-O-SENE project partner Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) hosted a special conference for East German
prime ministers. Guests included Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger, Minister of State and Federal Government Commissioner for eastern Germany Carsten Schneider, Saxony's Minister President Michael Kretschmer, and the other heads of government of the eastern German states. The conference focused on topics such as funding of research and technology, development of cutting-edge technologies in eastern Germany and vocational education and training. Not only did the guests gain insight into the innovative research at HZB. Our consortium partner also had the opportunity to present the German-South African research project CARE-O-SENE in detail. The attendees learnt more about the goals and
latest milestones of the project,which aims to enable the production of green kerosene on a large scale.

CARE-O-SENE’s Mentoring Program takes flight

CARE-O-SENE’s Mentoring Program takes flight

A multinational team of mentors and young talents sets out to embark on a journey of professional and personal growth.

The CARE-O-SENE team, by its very essence, is a multinational team of experts, working together on the development of new and more efficient catalysts for sustainable aviation fuels. In a strategic partnership between Germany and South Africa, CARE-O-SENE unites enterprises, research institutes as well as academic actors from both countries. The new mentoring program has the goal to strengthen this interaction.

As such a collaborative endeavor, the mentorship program is a natural extension of this partnership, and the accomplished teams eagerly embrace the mentoring of diverse young talents and look forward to getting to know their fresh perspectives. In 12 one-on-one mentoring pairs and with a mentoring circle headed by an accomplished research & technology manager at Sasol Limited, an exchange of knowledge, expertise and diverse perspectives is fostered. This cross-generational initiative is a vital approach in motivating and empowering aspiring individuals in the chemical industry and research sector.

Fueling ambitions

First introduced in July 2023, industrial and academic experts such as engineers, laboratory assistants, senior scientists and Ph.D. students were encouraged to participate in the mentoring program. It aims to offer mentees compelling learning opportunities and support from experienced individuals from Sasol Limited, Sasol Germany GmbH, KIT, HZB, UCT and IKTS.

Mentors and mentees were matched according to their shared interests. They were able to choose between one-or-one mentoring, a mentoring circle and a combination of both. Due to this matching process, every participant was able to find the option that enhances their potential and aligns with their interaction preferences.

An alliance for the future

As a powerful leadership development tool, mentorship programs provide a mutually beneficial frame to exchange knowledge while also fostering trusted interpersonal relationships between mentors and mentees. Young talents thus receive guidance and support on their further career path.

CARE-O-SENE’s Mentoring Program first started with a virtual kick-off between mentors and mentees in the second half of 2023, where they set a mentorship agreement including expectations, scope and meeting cadence to ensure a successful collaboration. The mentoring relationships are expected to run for the beginning for one year. A face-to-face meet up is scheduled in spring 2024 in South Africa. An overview of the CARE-O-SENE project team members can be found here:

Research for Sustainability (FONA) reports on CARE-O-SENE

Research for Sustainability (FONA) reports on CARE-O-SENE

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) reports on the latest milestone of the CARE-O-SENE project on its Research for Sustainability (FONA) website.

The team of the German-South African research project has succeeded in producing a new catalyst on a semi-commercial scale at Sasol's facilities in South Africa and successfully subjected it to a 67-day “stress test”. Catalysts play a key role in the large-scale production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

You can find the full FONA article here and in the November issue of the newsletter (only available in German).

Another success for CARE-O-SENE: New catalyst passes “stress test”

Another success for CARE-O-SENE: New catalyst passes “stress test”

As recently reported 1.8 tonnes of the new catalyst have been produced on a semi-commercial scale.

The so called “Catalyst One” has now successfully passed a 67-day “stress test”. The catalyst was tested with conventional feedstocks in the world’s largest Fischer-Tropsch demonstration reactor (FTDR) in South Africa with a capacity of over 100 barrels per day. During the test, the new catalyst proved its performance under realistic conditions. The results show that “Catalyst One” works as expected under commercially representative conditions. It delivers Fischer-Tropsch crude - wax and condensates - of a quality that predicts a production yield of over 80 percent jet fuel. To provide reliable proof of this, the resulting crude products have now been sent to another partner of the CARE-O-SENE project: Topsoe from Denmark, a world leader in catalysis and process technology and Sasol's long-term partner in processing of Fischer-Tropsch products. There, the crude products are further refined up to the final product kerosene.

Further to this, the catalyst samples taken during the test are providing important additional data that will significantly advance the CARE-O-SENE consortium’s research into the behaviour of catalysts under representative industrial conditions.

CARE-O-SENE project member Moritz Wolf is awarded with the Carl-Zerbe-Preis

CARE-O-SENE project member Moritz Wolf is awarded with the Carl-Zerbe-Preis

Congratulations to CARE-O-SENE project member Moritz Wolf who received the Carl-Zerbe-Preis at the conference “C1 Building Blocks for Future Chemistry” that was jointly organized by the DGMK e.V. (German Scientific Society for Sustainable Energy Sources, Mobility and Carbon Cycles e. V.) Division "Petrochemistry", the Division of Industrial Chemistry of the Società Chimica Italiana (SCI, Italian Chemical Societyand the ÖGEW Österreichische Gesellschaft für Energiewissenschaften that was held in Dresden, Germany from 11-13 October 2023. This event series links experts from industry and academia and focuses on topical scientific and technological issues around catalysis as an enabling technology for the energy transition and a sustainable chemical industry.

Learn more about CARE-O-SENE:
Learn more about the conference

Moritz Wolf at the award presentation of the Carl-Zerbe prize (Photo: Peter Leuten/DVV Media).

Milestone for CARE-O-SENE: First catalyst produced on semi-commercial scale

Milestone for CARE-O-SENE: First catalyst produced on semi-commercial scale

It is an important milestone for the CARE-O-SENE programme: the team of the German-South African research programme has succeeded in producing the new catalyst on a semi-commercial scale in the facilities of Sasol in South Africa. So far, these had only been produced and tested on a small scale in the laboratory and in pilot plants.

The catalyst is now being tested in the world's largest demonstration plant at Sasol in South Africa. This first endurance test presents it with completely new challenges and provides insights into the performance of the so-called "Catalyst One". And the research team is optimistic: the catalyst is very robust and has perfect prerequisites for the Fischer-Tropsch process. This includes, for example, high mechanical stability, the ability to achieve a high conversion rate or the possibility to produce the planned products with the desired quality.

Thus, the results of the upcoming test are not only a major milestone for the CARE-O-SENE team, but also an important step towards achieving the project goals: producing sustainable aviation fuels with high yields on an industrial scale – and transform industries such as aviation in a sustainable way.