Massive demand for cooling needed for new industry

Liquid Wind is to produce e-methanol for shipping. The process will need enormous amounts of cooling, which will be drawn from the sea near the plant. Illustration: Sundsvall Energi.

One of the biggest waves of industrialisation ever is washing over Sundsvall. Liquid Wind is going to produce e-methanol for shipping, a process that needs enormous amounts of cooling. FVB is responsible for the cooling process, which will be sold by Sundsvall Energi.

Liquid Wind’s business concept is to develop ‘electro fuels’ based on hydrogen to meet the shipping industry’s demand for cleaner fuels. To manufacture such fuels, green hydrogen will be used, produced from electricity generated by sustainable production and biogenic carbon dioxide. In Sundsvall, the latter will come from Korstaverket, the energy company’s combined power and heating plant, and from a new biofuel plant being planned. Liquid Wind’s FlagshipTWO plant will be on the same site as Korstaverket. The objective is to produce around 100,000 tonnes of e-methanol per year at Sundsvall, which will be twice as much as Örnsköldsvik, Liquid Wind’s first plant, produces.

“This is a truly exciting project with lots of uses. E-methanol will replace and avoid emissions from fossil fuels. The collaboration and process integration we are aiming for will really give a circular value chain based on local resources only,” says Kenneth Häggblom, Project Director at Liquid Wind.

The plans for the project were presented in June last year, and construction is scheduled to start in 2024 with commissioning in 2026.

The project represents opportunities and challenges for Sundsvall Energi, with regard to the cooling requirements of Liquid Wind.

“Liquid Wind’s e-methanol production needs large amounts of energy, and the cooling requirement is no exception. Korstaverket’s strategic location close to the sea gives us almost unlimited amounts of free cooling,” explains Bjarne Öberg, Production Manager at Sundsvall Energi.

“In contrast to many of Liquid Wind’s other potential partners, we do not regard the enormous need for cooling as an impediment,” Öberg adds.

Sundsvall Energi will sell the cooling capacity from the new plant based on free cooling from the sea off Korstaverket. The water will be drawn from a depth of 30–40 metres, as at that depth it has a relatively constant temperature of around 2–7 degrees C throughout the year. The water will be piped to a pumping station in Sundsvall harbour, from where it will be pumped to the factory site at Korstaverket. FVB is planning a heat exchanger station at Korstaverket to handle the cooling for both FlagshipTWO and Sundsvall Energi.

“There are many engineering challenges in this project, especially the brackish seawater. It's tricky to use because it’s highly corrosive. It’s actually more corrosive than the salt water on the west coast. What that means in practice is that all the materials in the sea cooling system – pipes and components – must have high corrosion resistance,” explains Stefan Ellmin, Regional Manager at FVB Nord and the man heading the project, involving 13 people from FVB.

Another challenge is the size of this system, for which an application has been made to take 12,000 m3 of cold seawater per hour, which makes Sundsvall Energi one of the biggest producers of district/process cooling in Sweden.

“The opportunity to be able to supply such vast amounts of free cooling is a fantastic solution that helps ensure the project can be undertaken in several ways. It is extremely efficient, which is a big benefit for us given that we have a limited site to work with,” says Öberg, before adding:

“Furthermore, the solution is very cost-effective from an investment and operating cost perspective.” The challenge lies in coordinating all the processes to make use of the energy flow as efficiently as possible.”

“There will also be some surplus heat from the process that can be routed into the district heating system when the grid can take it,” concludes Ellmin.

For further information, contact:
Stefan Ellmin, +46 (0)60-67 27 06

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