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Partners begin verification testing of Blue Tower staged reforming technology for bio-hydrogen production from sewage sludge
11 September 2012
|The HIT BusinessResearch Group intends to convert sewage sludge to hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles and stationary fuel cells. Click to enlarge.|
The Hydrogen Innovation Town (HIT) Business Research Group in Japan—including Japan Blue Energy Co., Ltd. (JBEC); Daiwa Lease Co., Ltd.; Toyota Tsusho Corporation; and Mitsui Chemicals, Inc.—has begun verification tests using sewage sludge to generate bio-hydrogen at JBEC’s Blue Tower new technology plant located at its development center in Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture.
The HIT Business Research Group is targeting the conversion of biomass (in this case, disposed sewage sludge) into hydrogen as a substitute for fossil fuels, utilizing JBEC’s proprietary Blue Tower staged reforming technology. The partners envision that the introduction of the technology to sewage treatment plants around Japan will facilitate supply of hydrogen to fuel cell vehicles (FCV) and stationary fuel cells (FC). Daiwa House Industry Co., Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corporation are participating in the group as observer members.
|The Blue Tower comprises three in-line vessels: preheater, reformer and pyrolyzer. Alumina balls serve as a heat carrier. Click to enlarge.|
The Blue Tower uses pyrolytic gasification and reforming to convert biomass to a gas with a high hydrogen concentration. The technology is based on the improvement of the original technology (“Blauer Turm”) of the German company DM2 (DM2 Verwertungstechnologien Dr. Mühlen GmbH & Co. KG).
One of the main features of the Blue Tower is its use of alumina balls as the heat carrier; the heat carrier is circulated orderly and repeatedly within the three core components of the tower: pyrolyzer, reformer and pre-heater. The heat carrier is heated by the flue gas from the combustor.
In the pyrolyzer, biomass material (woodchips, sewage sludge, etc.) is brought into contact with high temperature alumina balls to generate a biogas at about 500–600 °C. The generated pyrolysis gas is reformed at around 950 °C in the reforming section where steam is added to promote hydrogen formation via the water-gas shift reaction. Steam used in the reformer is pre-heated using hot producer gas.
Circulation of the alumina balls is highly efficient in heating core components and also effective in preventing and making controllable common plant equipment problems such as blockage caused by tar. The Blue Tower process runs uninterrupted and is completely autonomous without any external additional energy supply.
Past small scale tests have shown that the Blue Tower technology is successful in converting sewage sludge into gas with high hydrogen concentration, thereby confirming the potential of sewage sludge as a raw material of bio-hydrogen.
Through test runs at the verification plant, methodology and production of bio-hydrogen will be substantiated and followed by studies for a commercial scale bio-hydrogen production plant and a model business structure.
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