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European Climate Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency


Turning sewage sludge into fuels and hydrogen.


The European Green Deal is a top priority for climate, energy and mobility. The target is for Europe to become climate-neutral by 2050, protecting humans, animals and ecosystems, but also creating economic growth across all demographics. All these measures are important for the support of biofuels, bioenergy and renewable fuels, under sustainable conditions and with sustainable feedstocks. In addition, the Fit for 55 package was adopted in the second part of 2021 by the European Commission to implement the 2030 Climate target plan with the 55% greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

The To-Syn-Fuel project, that will end in September 2022 after more than 5 successful years, is demonstrating a sustainable process that can transform waste biomass, such as sewage sludge into high-quality renewable liquid fuels and hydrogen.

To-Syn-Fuel integrates three different technologies in a new process to convert a wide range of residual and waste biomass: the pyrolysis-based Thermo-Catalytic Reforming, TCR®, hydrodeoxygenation (HDO), and pressure swing adsorption (PSA) will successfully achieve the project’s three key objectives: 1) the optimisation of the technologies involved, 2) their integration into a pilot plant and 3) the end use demonstration of diesel-equivalent fuel for transport.

The To-Syn-Fuel pilot plant built in Markt Hohenburg, district of Amberg-Sulzbach (Germany) can treat up to 500 kg/h of dried sewage sludge, which yields up to 50 litres/hour of biofuel.

By demonstrating all the essential process steps in an industrial operational environment, the project will advance the technology’s technical readiness to level 7 while achieving the main aim of the project, which is the long-term operation of a pre-commercial demonstrator. This is the final step of development before the technology reaches full commercial scale.

The first testing campaigns with TCR® have shown very satisfying performance, with the biocrude oil quality being in line with expectations. Also, the business plan and the socio-environmental sustainability analysis for the process provide very positive outcomes.

The consortium is working hard on communication at both national and international levels. One of the most significant is a promotional Car Tour planned this September 2022. A car, fuelled with To-Syn-Fuel diesel, will stop at key locations around Europe, including at this year’s European Sustainable Energy Week 2022 taking place on 26-30 September, to promote the technology and the importance of biofuels in the clean energy solutions mix for greener transport now and for decades to come.

See the EU factsheet for more information.




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