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UC Riverside and Thai Institute collaborating on thermochemical process for drop-in fuels from biomass

The University of California, Riverside (UCR) and a national laboratory in Thailand signed an agreement that will lead to a collaboration between the UC Riverside Bourns College of Engineering and the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research focused on a UCR-developed thermochemical process for the generation of synthetic fuels from carbonaceous matter—e.g., coal, dead forest wood or biomass.

The overall process is an integrated system of three different chemical processes. A steam hydrogasification (SHR) step is followed by a steam methane reformer (SMR) step and then a Fischer-Tropsch reaction (FTR) step. The combination of steam and hydrogen in the steam hydrogasifier offers the flexibility of using feedstock that has high water content. This step eliminates the pretreatment process of drying the feedstock.

The product gases from the SHR include mainly methane and hydrogen along with carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and steam. These gases are fed to the SMR where the methane reacts with steam to form carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The hydrogen that is required for the Fischer-Tropsch reaction is passed on to the FTR and the extra amount is recycled back to the SHR. Hence, the process does not need an external source of hydrogen. The steam hydrogasification step, note the UCR researchers, is the most important step in the process.

The memorandum of understanding between UC Riverside and the institute in Thailand, which is effective for three years, will allow for: exchange of researchers to execute the research; exchange of information and publications on the research; advice on related technology; implementation of cooperative research; and joint publication of research.

In recent years, the Bourns College of Engineering has also entered into global collaborative agreements with Tsinghua University in China, Hanbat University and Hanyang University, both in South Korea, and Tohoku University in Japan. The college also signed a similar agreement with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division, in 2010.


  • Park, C S and Norbeck, J N and Singh, S P and Raju, A (2007) Recent Progress on Steam Hydrogasification of Carbonaceous Matter to Clean Synthetic Diesel Fuel. (DEER 2007 poster)

  • Arun, R and Park, C S and Norbeck, J N (2009) Synthesis Gas Production using Steam Hydrogasification and Steam Reforming. Fuel Processing Technology, 90 (2). pp. 330-336. doi: 10.1016/j.fuproc.2008.09.011



It is good to see our local U.C. Riverside involved in the practical program. I believe energy is THE big deal and fuels in particular. If we can provide some academic work to the industry to get them going ASAP...all the better.

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