The ECLOSION Mission kicks off: renewable hydrogen and biomethane to promote a circular, sustainable and decarbonized economy

The ECLOSION project will develop new materials, technologies and processes for the generation, storage, transport and use of renewable hydrogen and biomethane obtained from bio-waste (urban, agri-food, wastewater and sewage sludge).

The ECLOSION consortium, led by Aqualia, has 7 leading companies in the development and implementation of the hydrogen and biomethane value chain: FCC Environment, CADE, Ghenova, Ariema Enerxia, H2B2, Idecal and Mindcaps. In the consortium also participate ten prestigious research organizations, including research and technology centers (IMDEA Energía, CSIC, CIEMAT, CARTIF and AICIA) and universities (Valladolid, Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha, Autónoma de Madrid and Girona).

The project will validate disruptive thermochemical, electrochemical and bioelectrochemical systems powered by photovoltaic and wind energy for the energy use of biowaste and wastewater, transforming them into hydrogen and biomethane at low cost. The resulting gas mixtures will be purified using new membranes and advanced processes based on green solvents. The optimization and combination of these technologies will allow a very significant reduction in the cost of generating hydrogen and biomethane. Also the separated CO2 waste streams will be processed by innovative bioelectrochemical systems to obtain biomethane thanks to the co-production of hydrogen in situ.

ECLOSION includes innovative solutions that benefit from existing infrastructures for the distribution and transport of hydrogen and biomethane and, if storage is needed, innovative processes will be available for both energy vectors, including the use of new materials based on hydrides. In addition, the implementation of fuel cells powered by hydrogen and biomethane, with higher efficiencies than current solutions, will maximize electricity generation, solving the challenge of inefficiency in current systems (such as energy losses). Thanks to the high electrical storage capacity of the supercapacitor materials developed in ECLOSION, the use of the electricity generated will be optimized. Advances in storage strategies will provide new opportunities to harmonize the production and demand of energy vectors –thermal and electrical uses–, thus promoting sustainable and viable solutions that reduce current energy dependence.

The development of energy optimization tools will accelerate the implementation and integration of ECLOSION. Intelligent, robust, flexible and eco-efficient energy systems will be designed from origin to consumption. The developments cover automatic learning algorithms (Machine Learning) for the optimal management of energy (thermal and electrical) and renewable electricity networks, including its production, distribution, storage and use in different uses, including vehicle fuel, electrical network renewable energy, gas distribution network and industry.

The ECLOSION OBSERVATORY has been set up, in which sponsoring entities and preferred users have already confirmed their participation, including 3 industrial associations, 10 industries (2 gas network managers), 2 consortiums (municipal and provincial), 4 supra-municipal administrations and 6 municipalities. Four of these locations will cede their public facilities, which will be provided for the implementation and validation of the benefits of ECLOSION. These are the wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) managed by Aqualia in Salamanca, Lleida and Jerez de la Frontera, and the Valladolid waste treatment center (CTR) managed by FCC Environment. The selected venues have a remarkable track record in the development of innovative initiatives towards a circular, sustainable and decarbonised economy.

ECLOSION is an opportunity for economic reactivation focused on the energy use of local and regional resources around the promotion of green hydrogen and biomethane. Also for the creation of quality employment: maintaining the direct employment of 71 people and the creation of 11 new jobs, mostly women. The national deployment of this solution would allow reaching an annual capacity of 64 TWh of hydrogen (including 46.5 TWh of biohydrogen) and 8.8 TWh in the form of biomethane, which would mean an outstanding contribution of 4.8% to the national energy mix. In addition, it would guarantee reaching the 2030 energy production objectives included in the Hydrogen and Biogas Routes, and would lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 13.8 million t CO2 , 5.3% less compared to the figure of 2019.

ECLOSION has a budget of €6,602,498 and funding of €4,451,374.85 by the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI), within the framework of the 2021 call for the SCIENCE AND INNOVATION MISSIONS Program (Recovery Plan, Transformation and Resilience), and has the support of the Ministry of Science and Innovation in Spain. The aid granted to the project is financed by the European Union through the Next Generation EU Fund.