A demonstration project in California plans to use concentrated solar power and green hydrogen to produce what its development partners said would be sustainable aviation fuels.
The project will take place at concentrated solar power (CSP) provider Heliogen’s demonstration facility in Lancaster in northern Los Angeles County. Heliogen is partnering with sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) firm Dimensional Energy on the project.
The project will use CSP to produce green hydrogen for use in Dimensional Energy’s Reactor platform.
The companies set an initial target of building a 1 barrel per day drop-in ready SAF demonstration, with the goal of developing a pipeline for around 3 million barrels of fuel over the next 10 years.
«This partnership brings us one crucial step closer to a future where we can fly planes on fuel created by sunlight and air – not fossil fuels,» Heliogen CEO Bill Gross said in a statement.
Heliogen has begun setup at a new manufacturing facility in Long Beach, California (Courtesy: Heliogen)
Dimensional Energy’s reactor uses a catalyst to break carbon dioxide’s molecular bonds to form carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide then mixes with hydrogen to make synthesis gas, or syngas, a building block for fuel and products.
Heliogen said last February that its 90,000 sq. ft. facility in Long Beach’s Calif., was expected to become operational in the third quarter. The facility is designed to include assembly lines, a test facility, and what the company said is a rapid development center.
Heliostats produced at the facility are expected to be used in the company’s first commercial project in California. Gross said that the production facility’s controlled conditions present manufacturing advantages over previous construction field production.
The new facility is expected to create 250 full-time jobs.
Founded in 1996, Heliogen aims to produce carbon-free energy using modular concentrated solar technology, replacing fossil fuels in heavy industry. The company said that its technology is capable of producing around 100 MW of energy with 20 modules. It said a plant could deliver an 85% capacity factor at a cost of $0.05 a kilowatthour, including subsidies.
The U.S. Department of Energy is providing up to $30 million for CSP research, including demonstration projects in the industrial sector.
The industrial sector could gain the most from CSP thermal energy storage deployment. That’s particularly true if the technology replaces natural gas in heat-driven processes like the production of steel, cement, ammonia, and fuels, according to Craig Turchi, who leads the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s CSP program.