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05.03.2021 | Research

Project start: Compatibility of e-fuels with plastics in heating systems

On 1 March 2021, a research project was launched to look at the potential impact of paraffinic fuel substitutes in existing heating systems.

The project is funded by the BMWi under the title "Compatibility of synthetic paraffinic liquid fuels with plastics in existing plants for domestic heating" and will run for 2.5 years.

In Germany, the energy used in the cooling-heating sector is currently dominated by fossil fuels. Studies on the energy transition predict that climate-friendly liquid fuels will form a significant share of the energy mix in the near future. Climate-friendly are the "Power to Liquid" (PtL) or E-Fuels, which are synthesized with renewable electricity (RES-E) from electrolytically produced hydrogen and CO or CO2, as well as hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO for Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil).

HVO and PtL fuel consist almost exclusively of paraffinic hydrocarbons. They have very good combustion properties and a high stability against thermooxidative degradation. They are therefore ideal as GHG-reduced blending components or as substitutes for EL fuel oil. Their future use also has the great advantage that the distribution structures and technologies already available in Germany for liquid fuels can be optimally used.

It is not known what effect a change from fuel oil, which is rich in aromatic hydrocarbons, to fuels with a low aromatic hydrocarbon content has on the function of the elastomer seals, the stability of the tanks and other plastic components. Negative consequences can be, for example, the washing out of additives added to the plastics, change or destruction of the molecular structure of the polymer or the initiation of stress cracks in the material due to the migration of the substances absorbed by the plastic during swelling.

The aim of the research project is to create the necessary basic knowledge about the behaviour of plastics under such an alternating load. This basic knowledge is a prerequisite for the derivation of measures that ensure the trouble-free use of EL heating oil, low-sulphur with proportions of paraffinic fuels or of pure synthetic predominantly paraffinic fuels in oil heating systems. This includes, for example, the adaptation of standards and the assignment of approval conditions for new tanks.

Research Agencies:

OWI Science for Fuels gGmbH
IKV Institute for Plastics Processing in Industry and Trade at RWTH Aachen University

The IGF project 21649 N of the research association DGMK is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy via the AiF within the framework of the programme for the promotion of joint industrial research (IGF) on the basis of a resolution of the German Bundestag.