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Swedish Press N Y A

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Sweden’s New Paradigm: Making Fuel from Renewable Electricity

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December 2020/January 2021 Vol 91:10 $5.95

10 2020

Electro-fuel Interview with Scania CEO Rjukan Heavy Water Liquid Wind


Large-scale Electro-fuel Production Set to Become Major Global Industry Translated and adapted from an article by Morten Valestrand in Tidningen Energi. View the article in Swedish at energi.se

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Swedish Press | Dec 2020/Jan 2021 12

The interest in climate change, sustainability and innovation is growing rapidly on both sides of the Atlantic. The technology to generate and store intermittent energy from renewable sources (mainly solar and wind) and to produce fossil-free (“green”) fuels is also evolving at an accelerating rate. The production of green fuels such as renewable methanol and hydrogen requires vast amounts of electricity; hence the fundamental link between the generation of renewable energy and the growing opportunity for production of green fuel.

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itigating climate change by de-fossilizing the road, marine and air transport sectors is not going to be an easy task. The European Commission has recognized the need for an aggressive policy promoting new solutions to substitute fossil fuels. This presents a strong need and opportunity for producers of carbon neutral fuels. Electro-fuels (also known as Power-to-Liquid or eFuels) are an emerging class of carbon-neutral and fossil-free fuels that are made by using renewable electricity and electrolysis to produce liquid or gaseous fuels. By utilizing carbon capture to take CO2 from the atmosphere or from industrial greenhouse gas emissions, carbon neutral liquid fuels such as methanol, gasoline and aviation fuel

can be produced. Electro-fuels offer a viable alternative to fossil fuels. However, producing electro-fuels requires a vast amount of electric power. To supply the country with electricity, Sweden is pursuing six carbon-neutral alternatives to coal, oil and natural gas. These alternatives are wind power (using wind turbines); wave power (employing various methods of converting ocean wave energy to electric energy); hydroelectric power (routing water in water falls through turbines); solar power (using solar cells); nuclear power (using radioactive heating to turn water into steam which is fed through turbines); and biofuels (fuels derived from organic materials such as crops and forestry by-products). Hydro-electric and nuclear currently dominate, but hydro is already exploited to the full and nuclear raises ecological issues. Wind is therefore seen as the most promising supplement in the future. The journey towards “liquid wind power” began a few years ago when the energy company Svensk Naturenergi was looking for storage options for its wind power. This resulted in a feasibility study of electro-fuels together with, among others, Göteborg Energi and Uddevalla Energi. In 2017, the Swedish company Liquid Wind was started by Claes Fredriksson, who has vast experience with renewable energy and cleantech, and who is the CEO of the company (see also page 10). Renewable hydrogen from wind power combined with carbon dioxide – these are the raw materials which Liquid Wind will draw upon to produce renewable fuel on a large scale for use by ships. The fuel is known as electro-


methanol, or eMethanol. “With electro-fuels from renewable hydrogen, Liquid Wind wants to be at the forefront of industrial change. Thanks to ample wind power potential, Sweden is in an excellent position to make clean fuel,” says Fredriksson. Liquid Wind is focusing on eMethanol mostly for strategic reasons. Technically, the company could be making synthetic diesel or some other fuel, but methanol is a versatile chemical compound with many applications, shipping being one of them. At present, shipping companies around the world lack an environmentally clean alternative to heavy oil. Since their fuel supplies are often purchased on longterm contracts, they offer a stable and bankable market opportunity. “The shipping industry is large enough to be able to provide the commercial weight and security needed to get the large facilities up and running,” says Fredriksson. The shipping industry is comfortable with using methanol, which is a relatively easy fuel to handle. Methanol also fits in well with existing storage and delivery infrastructures. Shipping may prove to be the gateway for introducing electro-fuel in the rest

of the transport sector – on land, at sea and in the air. In addition, both the chemical industry and the manufacturing industry have a growing need for renewable fuels. For example, eMethanol can help reduce the pulp & paper industry’s carbon dioxide emissions. Liquid Wind intends to buy electricity from new wind power facilities, financed through PPA (Power Purchase Agreements). These will be long-term, fixed price agreements valid for 10–15 years. The strategy is that each subsequent eMethanol production facility will establish its own PPA with wind power producers. Along with hydrogen, biogenic carbon dioxide is the other major raw material needed to produce eMethanol. Liquid Wind plans to locate its first

Liquid Wind’s first eMethanol plant is planned for early 2024, probably in Örnsköldsvik. Photo: Övik Energi.

production facility near the biofuelfired combined heat and power (CHP) plant Hörneborgsverket in Örnsköldsvik. If everything goes according to plan, carbon dioxide will be captured and used in electro-fuel production. Every year 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide will be upcycled into carbon neutral fuel, preventing the emission of 100,000 tons of new carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. When carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology reaches the energy industry in the future, there may be interesting spin-off deals for energy companies that burn biomass and waste. Channelling carbon dioxide to the production of electro-fuels rather than sending waste to landfill is clearly an idea with a future. Instead of bioCCS with storage, it will be bio-CCU, carbon capture and utilization. To achieve cost-competitive electrofuel, access to low cost renewable electricity and concentrated sources of carbon dioxide is essential. Over the coming years, it will be important to identify and leverage these conditions to increase the supply of carbon neutral fuel, to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and to reduce global carbon emissions.

Photo: Enanuchit/123rf

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E X C L U S I V E

I N T E R V I E W

Electro-fuels Lead the Way to Global Sustainability Interviewed by Peter Berlin

Juergen Puetter. Photo © Alexander Puetter

Juergen Puetter has had a distinguished career converting innovative concepts into successful businesses. He has extensive experience in the development of indoor environmental control products, wind farms and methanolbased gasoline. He is currently the Chairman and CEO of Renewable Hydrogen Canada (RH2C) which is slated to produce low-carbon, renewable fuels in British Columbia, Canada. See also www.rh2ca.ca.

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W I T H

J U E R G E N

uergen was born in Switzerland and grew up in Germany. At the age of 17 he spent one year in California on a scholarship, and then returned to Germany. In 1972 he moved to Canada for good, becoming a Canadian citizen in 1977. “My father was a pilot with Swissair,” says Juergen. “I myself have two airplanes and I fly everywhere I can. Aviation plays a central part of my life.” Juergen has been involved with many businesses, beginning in Montreal where in 1977 he founded a company called Bionaire which made air purifiers. In 1993 he created a company called Hydroxyl Systems which dealt with water and wastewater treatment, also for cruise ships. Then 9/11 happened which killed that business. He went on to found Aeolis Wind Power which produced renewable electric energy from wind farms. “We built the first commercial wind farm in British Columbia,” Juergen explains. “I was able to acquire a large number of wind sites which ultimately led me to set up Blue Fuel Energy, Canadian Methanol Corporation and, most recently, Renewable Hydrogen Canada (RH2C).” Juergen continues: “With the growing requirement for low-carbon fuel, be it liquid or gas, the underlying energy has to come from somewhere. We have these very large and productive wind sites which allow us to produce electricity at low cost. Clean, carbon-free hydrogen is produced by

P U E T T E R

submitting water to electrolysis, and the electrolytic process requires a great deal of electric power. We control several thousand megawatts of low-cost, high-energy wind farm sites in BC.” Juergen founded the company Blue Fuel Energy for making methanol using a combination of natural gas and renewable electricity, and then converting it to low-carbon gasoline. “The technology worked, the economics worked, we had big strategic partners, but the large oil companies closed in on us and wouldn’t allow us onto the market,” he laments. “So we basically had to put the company and the project on the back-burner and instead concentrate on hydrogen which is the focus of RH2C. We have two major projects, one of which amounts to building very large wind farms that would drive electrolyzers to make hydrogen, firmed by BC Hydro Electricity to be inserted into the gas pipeline grid. We are now just waiting for permission to inject the gas into the pipeline.” The other RH2C project is an ocean-based facility which will also facilitate production of hydrogen at a very low cost. The hydrogen can be exported from British Columbia to the most promising hydrogen markets – California, Korea, Japan and China. Juergen: “Your friends at Liquid Wind in Sweden are aiming to make renewable methanol primarily from wind power. We view methanol as a hydrogen carrier. Paradoxically, a litre


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of methanol contains more hydrogen than a litre of liquefied hydrogen. The beauty of methanol, compared to hydrogen, is that it is a liquid at room temperature. It is no more difficult to transport than water. Methanol is a wonderful hydrogen carrier, in many applications better than using it directly as a fuel.“ The conversion of electricity into hydrogen does not occur without losses – around 20 to 30 percent depending on the conversion method. These losses are released as waste heat which can be fed to very large greenhouses for growing organic food. Food security is seen as essential among First Nation communities in British Columbia, and re-using waste heat in this manner is an ideal method for obtaining both First Nation support and political support for the project. “In our Sundance project we generate approximately 40 megawatt of waste heat, available for greenhouses at no cost,” according to Juergen. “We can heat greenhouses on a massive scale. We think it is a very elegant way to put all the pieces together.” Hydrogen in liquid or compressed form has many uses – to decarbonize the build sector for heating and cooking using gas, and the transportation sector for trucking, to name a few. On the other hand, methanol is the ideal medium for delivery over large distances. Then there is the matter of socalled fuel cells which use gaseous

W I T H

J U E R G E N

P U E T T E R

Hydrogen via electrolysis: Water + electric current = hydrogen gas + oxygen gas + waste heat. Hydrogen from methanol: Methanol + water + heat = hydrogen gas + carbon dioxide. Methanol production: Captured carbon dioxide + hydrogen gas = methanol + water. Electricity from fuel cell: Hydrogen from methanol + oxygen from the atmosphere = electricity + water + heat. Copyright: Renewable Hydrogen Canada Corporation

hydrogen and oxygen from air to produce electricity efficiently, albeit mostly on a small scale so far. If methanol is used as a carrier, then hydrogen is produced by “cracking” or reforming the methanol. We asked Juergen whether methanol-fed fuel cells will make battery-driven electric cars obsolete. “No, there is no competition,” Juergen replied. “Take for example a Tesla electric car. The volume under the hood of the car is empty. If you put a methanol tank and a methanol fuel cell there, you can double the range of a Tesla. You keep the methanol in liquid form in a small tank. You then reform the methanol into hydrogen and feed it into the fuel cell which yields electric power to

charge the battery. The problem with electric cars is that the batteries are expensive and heavy, and they take a long time to charge compared to filling up with conventional, fossil-based gasoline. An innovative company in Scandinavia, Blue World, is proposing to use methanol as a substitute for gasoline. Gas stations can be converted to dispense methanol very inexpensively. If the methanol is renewable, then you have a carbon-neutral hydrogen carrier. In a fuel cell you combine the hydrogen with oxygen from the atmosphere and out comes carbon-neutral electricity to charge the battery.” Summing up, Juergen offers the following thought: “These are exciting times. Electricity is clearly the end fuel of the future. Hydrogen and electricity are totally complementary; they are not in competition with one another. It is true that you can drive a truck directly on hydrogen or methanol, but neither is as efficient as when they are converted to electricity in a fuel cell.”

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Swedish Press | Dec 2020/Jan 2021 15


H E RITAG E

Water that made nuclear fission possible

A Tale of Scandinavian Inventiveness and Bravery By Peter Berlin

D

uring WW II, a liquid known as Heavy Water was “brewed” near the town of Rjukan in southern Norway. No, heavy water is not a brand of Norwegian aquavit but was once an important element in the making of nuclear bombs. It all began in 1905 when a Norwegian hydro-electric power company decided to exploit the 104-metre Rjukan water fall with the aim of generating large-scale electric energy. The result was the world’s biggest hydro-electric power plant at the time, and its primary purpose was to supply electric power to a local factory that made agricultural fertilizer. Thirty years later, a factory for producing hydrogen was built next door to the power plant. Hydrogen is obtained by subjecting ordinary water to power-hungry electrolysis (see Company File on page 10). What the factory operators did not realize at first was that they were also producing small quantities of heavy water as a by-product. It took a future Norwegian Nobel Prize winner to point that out to them. Recall that ordinary water (H2O) is made up of two hydrogen atoms (H2) bound to a single oxygen

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The Rjukan Waterfall lay the foundation for the Vemork Power Plant, which became the largest of its kind in the world when completed in 1911. The Vemork Power Plant now houses the Norwegian Industrial Workers Museum and the World Heritage Centre. Photo: Norsk industriarbeidermuseum

atom (O). Heavy water has the formula D2O where the “D” stands for deuterium. The deuterium atom is a hydrogen isotope where a neutron is attached to the lone hydrogen proton inside the atom. The addition of the neutron makes a deuterium atom roughly twice as heavy as a regular hydrogen atom; hence the term “heavy water.” The idea behind a nuclear device is to bombard uranium with neutrons. The bombardment splits the uranium atoms and precipitates a hail of secondary neutrons in the process. The secondary neutrons are meant to dislodge more secondary neutrons in adjacent uranium atoms, and so forth – in other words, a chain reaction called fission which causes a nuclear explosion. Paradoxically, a substance is needed which slows down the secondary neutrons, so that they can be captured by other uranium nuclei. Heavy water is one such medium. More happily, heavy water is also used as a moderator in some of the nuclear reactors that supply a substantial portion of the electricity used in everyday life – although many ecologists nowadays question

whether nuclear power is such a “happy” resource, after all. The story about heavy water doesn’t end here. In September 1940 the Germans occupied Norway. Having heard about the heavy water production and its potential use for making nuclear weapons, the German army took control of the plant at Rjukan. Following failed efforts by the Allies to put the Rjukan plant out of action, the Norwegian resistance movement managed to disable the plant once and for all. On a cold night in February of 1943, a group of commandos entered the plant unseen as the Germans were changing the guards. The saboteurs planted dynamite charges under the heavy-water-making equipment. By the time the Germans heard the explosions and sounded the alarm, the Norwegian commandos were back on their skis heading for the Swedish border. The sabotage of the Rjukan plant was the subject of a 1948 FrancoNorwegian docudrama, Operation Swallow: The Battle for Heavy Water (“Kampen om Tungtvannet” in Norwegian). In 1965 an American movie on the same theme called The Heroes of Telemark starred Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris. A Norwegian TV mini-series, The Heavy Water War, aired in 2015. Nowadays the name Rjukan is firmly embedded in WW II history.


H E RI TAG E

Swedish artist who defied convention

Hilma af Klint: A Swedish Woman Artist of a Different Stripe By Kitty Hughes

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n the YouTube video, curator Iris Muller-Westermann stands in a silent exhibit space in the Malmö Moderna Museet surrounded by colorful oversized canvases, the work of a lesser known artist by the name of Hilma af Klint. The exhibit, scheduled to open last spring, was delayed when the museum was closed due to Covid-19. The Klint Show has been extended to February 21, 2021, with limited public viewing.

Portrait photograph of Hilma af Klint c. 1901

Although several museums have mounted shows of Klint’s work in the past decade, most notably at the Stockholm Moderna Museet (2013) and the Guggenheim (2018), Malmö is exhibiting the most

“No. 3, Youth” – one of the most striking of “The Ten Largest” – contrasts a bold orange background with suggestive spirals and twirls.

comprehensive collection of Klint’s work to date – not a small feat. Klint created a collection of more than 1,000 works and over 125 notebooks, most never seen in her lifetime. Art historians have argued that Klint invented abstract painting, preceding Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian by several years. Ironically, Klint chose to exhibit her more conventional, naturalistic work at major exhibits in Stockholm (1911) and Malmo (1940), where abstract works by Wassily Kandinsky were shown alongside hers. The public had no idea that Klint had started experimenting with abstraction five years earlier. Hilma af Klint was born in Stockholm in 1862, the fourth of five children in a family of some means. She attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the late 1800s. Klint founded a group of women artists called “The Five,” who held seances and tracked their experiences in notebooks. Klint’s resulting

Temple Paintings (1906 – 1915) explored her spiritualist leanings in a bold new abstract format. The visible world consists of dualities – for example, dark, light; masculine, feminine; good, evil; but these polarities can reveal unifying truths. Klint had the ambition and drive to paint large, at a time when women were supposed to do watercolors on small easels in the parlor room corner. A group of works called “The Ten Largest” are over 10½ feet high and almost 8 feet wide. In 1917 she completed the Atom series, drawn by scientific discoveries that revealed a world not observable with the naked eye, of atoms, subatomic particles, electromagnetic waves and x-rays. Klint depicted invisible wave patterns and lively curlicues to convey mysterious hidden sources of matter. According to Peter Schjeldahl, in “Out of Time: Hilma af Klint’s Visionary Paintings” (The New Yorker, October 22, 2018), Theosophist Rudolf Steiner visited Klint’s studio in 1908 and “told Klint to give up otherworldliness […] She all but stopped work for the next four years and […] never recovered the selfless focus and intensity of her temple pictures […]” (p. 93) According to other accounts, Klint met Steiner in 1920 in Switzerland where she joined his newly formed Anthroposophical Society. She spent time in Switzerland from 1921 – 1930 and left no paintings after 1925. Perhaps she thought she had painted quite enough. Klint died in Djursholm, Sweden, in 1944, leaving her entire estate to her nephew.

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Profile for Swedish Press

Swedish Press Sample Dec 2020/Jan 2021 Vol 91:10  

Swedish Press is the world’s leading magazine on all good things Swedish. An authority on design, business, culture and travel since 1929, S...

Swedish Press Sample Dec 2020/Jan 2021 Vol 91:10  

Swedish Press is the world’s leading magazine on all good things Swedish. An authority on design, business, culture and travel since 1929, S...