Research Topic

Advances in Power-to-X: Processes, Systems, and Deployment

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The storage of excess electricity generated at high shares of fluctuating renewable energy in the form of heat, synthetic fuels/chemicals (e.g., hydrogen (H2), methane (CH4), synthesis gas (H2/CO/CO2), ammonia (NH3), methanol (CH3OH), dimethyl ...

The storage of excess electricity generated at high shares of fluctuating renewable energy in the form of heat, synthetic fuels/chemicals (e.g., hydrogen (H2), methane (CH4), synthesis gas (H2/CO/CO2), ammonia (NH3), methanol (CH3OH), dimethyl ether (C2H6O)) and other energy vectors using power-to-X (PtX) technologies is a promising approach to enable high shares of renewables in power generation, and decarbonize the thermal, transport and energy‐intensive manufacturing sectors such as steel and cement. Although promising, the further development of PtX technologies faces sizeable challenges, including process efficiency limitations, limited availability of affordable (quasi) carbon‐neutral CO2 sources for hydrogenation, and economic aspects, including capital expenditure. Such challenges are to be overcome for PtX products to economically and environmentally compete with both conventional and other alternative energy vectors. PtX advances in these areas may be facilitated by expanding the boundaries of PtX research in domains that have not received significant attention
to date.

The majority of projected PtX deployments to date have focused on regional/national‐level implementations of PtH2/PtCH4 in the centralized power/gas sectors. PtX products other than H2/CH4 have received significantly less attention (e.g., heat/cold, liquid fuels/chemicals, water). In terms of processes, the emphasis has been on low‐temperature electrolysis, with limited heat/material synergies between either PtX processes or between PtX and other processes.

By contrast, distributed‐scale PtX implementations (e.g., industrial, commercial, urban, transportation) in the vicinity of PtX product end‐use installations have the potential to reduce the technical, economic and environmental challenges associated with the transport/storage of PtX feedstock and/or PtX products. In addition, industrial, commercial and urban facilities typically have multiple product needs (e.g., heat/cold, fuels/chemicals, water), that could be met through on‐site PtX‐based poly‐generation. Conversely, the sale of such PtX products could lead to higher profitability than PtH2/PtCH4, which face competition with low‐cost fossil fuels. High‐temperature (co)electrolysis and heat/material synergies have the potential to significantly improve PtX process efficiency, reduce its material demand (e.g., heat, water, CO2), provide and recycle lowenergy CO2, and valorize PtX waste/by‐products (e.g., O2, excess heat, condensate).

This Research Topic seeks to provide a platform to identify, evaluate and discuss potential solutions that could contribute to overcome PtX development challenges. Original Research, Review and Perspective articles are solicited in the following areas:

- Distributed‐scale PtX applications in the industrial (e.g., hydrocarbon, cement/glass/ceramic, iron/steel, non‐ferrous metals), commercial (e.g., water treatment/desalination), urban (e.g., buildings, districts), and transport sectors

- PtX‐based poly‐generation (e.g., gaseous/liquid fuels, chemicals, heat/cold, water, power)

- PtX process/system yield/efficiency improvement (e.g., high‐temperature (co‐)electrolysis; hydrogenation; low‐energy CO2 sourcing/capture), heat/material (e.g., H2O, CO2, water) recycling, process integration, reduced feedstock/product compression requirement

- PtX operability improvement (e.g., load/dynamic flexibility, reversible electricity–to–X operation, smart regulation)

- PtX environmental impact reduction relative to fossil‐ or other alternative low‐carbon commodities (e.g., through zero‐carbon PtX products (e.g., H2, NH3), low‐energy PtX processes, (quasi)carbon‐neutral CO2 sourcing)

- PtX economic profitability improvement through PtX capital/operating cost reductions, high‐value added PtX products and PtX waste/by‐product valorization (e.g., O2, excess heat, condensate), capacity utilization improvement, market strategies, energy policies, regulation

- PtX characterization, modeling and performance assessment (e.g., techno‐economic, life cycle, multicriteria, optimization, dynamic, benchmarking with conventional fossil and alternative low‐carbon commodities; pilot and demonstration projects)

- PtX integration in future energy system planning.


Keywords: synthetic fuel, energy storage, poly-generation, CO2 utilization, Power-to-X


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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