Electricity as a resource

Electrochemical processes for the production of important basic chemicals

Combining energy system and chemical production

Digital competence center bundles know-how on sector coupling and offers processes and services for products with a green footprint.

Project aims: Connecting the energy system and the chemical industry

The Fraunhofer lighthouse project "Electricity as a resource" was launched in 2015 with the aim of developing electrochemical processes that can be used to produce important raw materials for the chemical industry in a climate-neutral manner. In this context, climate-neutral means that green – i.e. low-CO2 – electricity from renewable energies should be used to synthesize basic chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide, ethene, alcohols or acids. Through this system coupling between the energy system and the chemical industry, the scientists from the nine Fraunhofer institutes involved in the lead project wanted to pave the way for products with a "green footprint".

Benefits: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The production of chemicals is still very energy- and cost-intensive. As a result, according to the VDI – Verein Deutscher Ingenieure e.V. (Association of German Engineers), the chemical industry is currently responsible for around seven percent of Germany's total greenhouse gas emissions. With the help of the technologies developed in the "Electricity as a resource" lighthouse project, green electricity can be converted into chemical projects (power-to-chemicals), thereby reducing or completely avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, reduced energy and material consumption lead directly to cost savings in the production process.

Result: Products and services for the process industry and energy sector

In the lighthouse project "Electricity as a resource", new electrochemical processes were developed, technically demonstrated and their coupling with the German energy system analyzed. The results are products, processes and services for the process industry and the energy sector. They are made available under the eSource® brand as a technological research, development and education platform. The concrete results are:

Electrochemical processes

  • Production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)
  • Conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) to ethene (C2H4)
  • Conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) to short-chain alcohols and acids (high-pressure electrolysis)
  • Conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) to long-chain alcohols (high-temperature co-electrolysis and optimized Fischer-Tropsch process)


  • Optimized catalysts
  • New electrode systems
  • New ion-conductive polymer membranes

System evaluation

  • Modeling and optimization tools
  • Market analyses and business models
  • New methods for sustainability assessment

Competence spectrum for innovations in electrochemical syntheses

  • Process development as well as construction and operation of pilot plants (batch and flow-through operation)
  • Development and testing of (electro-)catalysts, cells and stacks
  • Method for manufacturing and testing electrodes for electrochemical processes
  • Development of ion-conductive polymer membranes
  • Analytics and characterization of catalysts, electrodes, cells and membranes
  • Modeling, simulation and optimization
  • System analysis and sustainability assessment
  • Innovation Management
  • Project and business model development

Project partners

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI