Four projects receive over SEK 300 million through the Industrial Leap

In December the Industrial Leap programme awarded grants to four projects intended to contribute to the green transition.


Photos: Göteborg Energi, GKN Aerospace, Altris, FerroSilva.

The Industrial Leap programme supports innovative projects that contribute to the green transition of the industrial sector. Funding is available for all types of research and innovation, including feasibility studies, pilot projects and investments in commercial plants. In December, the Swedish Energy Agency awarded grants to four projects to support innovation in the fields of aerospace engineering, sodium-ion batteries, carbon dioxide-free sponge iron for the steel industry and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

“By supporting everything from feasibility studies and pilot projects to new products and investments in commercial plants, we are paving the way for the green transition of society through innovation. This accelerates Sweden’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, potentially, achieve net zero emissions. This is crucial not only to meeting the climate challenge but also to strengthening Sweden’s future competitiveness and welfare,” says Klara Helstad, Head of Sustainable Industry at the Swedish Energy Agency.

GKN Aerospace Sweden – sustainable additive manufacturing for aircraft engine components

Like every sector of society, the aerospace industry needs to transition in order to contribute to achieving energy and climate policy goals. New technologies and value chains are being developed and require continued support. GKN Aerospace has been granted funding to develop the sustainable additive manufacturing of large aircraft engine components. The process, which involves layer-by-layer construction using metal wire or powder fused together with lasers, has not previously been used in the aerospace industry for fabricating components of this size. At the same time GKN Aerospace must meet exacting safety standards imposed by both the industry and public authorities on factors such as material properties, precision and robustness – something that in itself demands innovation.

The new technology will reduce the use of raw materials which may eventually make aircraft lighter thus reducing fuel consumption. The Swedish Energy Agency sees good conditions for disseminating the solution, as GKN’s products are currently installed in 90 per cent of the world’s airliners. The project may also generate new knowledge that can be applied within other industries seeking to replace cast and forged products, such as the shipbuilding industry.

The future construction of a commercial facility is expected to reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 25,000 tonnes by 2030 and, in the longer term, by 150,000 tonnes annually as the components become operational.

Altris – pilot plant to produce sodium-ion battery cells

The production of fossil-free energy must increase exponentially if we are to achieve a climate-neutral society. Given the weather-dependent nature of both the production and use of renewable energy, there is a pressing need to identify solutions to stabilise electricity supply. In part, this is currently achieved using gas turbines with the consequent increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Battery storage can reduce these emissions. The lithium-ion batteries commonly used for this purpose require expensive raw materials such as cobalt, nickel and copper.

In Project Atlas, Altris and Northvolt are collaborating to develop the first pilot production line for sodium-ion battery cells, based on the cathode material Fennac, a more sustainable alternative for both stabilising the national grid and other battery-storage applications. The performance of Fennec-based battery cells is equal to iron-based lithium batteries. Moreover, all of the raw materials can be obtained within Europe.

The project is a vital step towards the large-scale commercialisation of sodium-ion batteries. If the project is successful, it will culminate in the first prototype batteries from a competitive, scalable manufacturing process. Emissions will be one third of those generated by conventional battery production.

FerroSilva – fossil-free sponge iron ore for steel production

FerroSilva has been awarded a Swedish Energy Agency grant to study the feasibility of building a plant to manufacture fossil-free sponge iron as a raw material for steel production. The proposed process uses biogenic gas, or syngas, produced from forest and agricultural waste to reduce iron oxide to iron. The process separates carbon dioxide for use in a subsequent stage, such as the production of biomethanol.

The investment relates to an important stage in realising a sponge iron production plant using iron ore and syngas obtained from the gasification of biomass. Manufacturing sponge iron using this technique generates lower carbon dioxide emissions than conventional production, which uses natural gas.

It is estimated that an initial plant with the capacity to produce 50,000 tonnes of sponge iron a year would reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 68,000 tonnes compared to a direct reduction plant using natural gas. A planned future upscaling would be ten times the size. The technology also has the potential for global application.

Göteborg Energi – Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage

Sweden has a long-term target of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest, after which negative net emissions should be achieved. One way to achieve negative net emissions is bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). At its Gasendal biogas plant, Gothenburg’s municipal energy company Göteborg Energi has the potential to be the first in Sweden to implement BECCS. The separation of carbon dioxide is already part of the process of producing biogas, meaning that a stream of pure carbon dioxide is already available. As the separation stage is energy-intensive, biogas plants offer an energy-efficient opportunity to implement BECCS.

The plant will liquefy approximately 7,000 tonnes of biogenic carbon dioxide for transport to final storage.

The projects in brief

  • GKN Aerospace will receive SEK 151.9 million to become the first manufacturer in the world to fabricate large aircraft components using additive manufacturing.
  • Altris will receive SEK 106.8 million to develop the first pilot production line for sodium-ion battery cells, based on the cathode material Fennac, a more sustainable alternative for both stabilising the national grid and other battery-storage applications.
  • FerroSilva will receive SEK 33.9 million to study the feasibility of a plant producing sponge iron from iron ore and syngas obtained from the gasification of biomass.
  • Göteborg Energi will receive SEK 11.2 million to realise what will potentially be one of the world’s first value chains for bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Projects awarded Industry Leap grants

The Recovery and Resilience Facility, European Commission website

The Swedish Energy Agency is responsible for the Industrial Leap. Funding can be given to all type of research and innovation projects as well as investments.