BioBoost project targets conversion of biomass into intermediate energy carriers for subsequent conversion into fuels, chemicals, power and heat
Six research institutions and seven industrial partners from Europe will participate in the new BioBoost project, aimed at converting residual biomass into energy carriers for the production of high-quality and engine-compatible fuels and chemicals as well as for the generation of electricity and heat. The project, coordinated by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), will start in early 2012.
The BioBoost project concentrates on dry and wet residual biomass and wastes as feedstock for de-centralized conversion by fast pyrolysis, catalytic pyrolysis and hydrothermal carbonization to the intermediate energy carriers oil, coal or slurry. Based on straw, the energy density increases from 2 to 20-31 GJ/m3, enabling central GW-scale gasification plants for biofuel production. The catalytic pyrolysis reduces oxygenates in the oil to 13% enabling power and refinery applications.
The fast pyrolysis and HTC processes of demo-size (0.5-1 t/h) are optimized for feedstock flexibility, yield, quality and further up-scaling is part of the project.
Research under BioBoost will complement KIT’s bioliq biosyncrude gasification process (earlier post), which is designed for the production of designer fuels for diesel and Otto engines from biogenous residues, e.g., straw.
The complete bioliq biomass-to-liquids process consists of four stages:
Flash pyrolysis at decentralized plants to convert low-energy-density biomass waste into a petroleum-similar intermediate product of coke and oil: bioliqSyncrude.
Dry residual biomass is distributed over wide areas and has a low energy content; the resultant biosyncrude contains about 90% of the energy stored in the biomass, with an energy density more than 10 times as high as that of the feedstock. The resulting biosyncrude can be transported economically for further upgrading.
In the next stage, the energy-rich intermediate product is converted into synthesis gas, a chemically reactive mixture of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2). In the course of this process, the bioliqSynCrude is mixed with oxygen and decomposed into the basic elements of synthesis fuels under pressure and at temperatures above 1000 °C.
Hot-gas cleaning removes impurities, such as particles, chlorine, and nitrogen compounds from the synthesis gas. KIT is using a new technology; cleaning will take place at 500 °C, as a result of which energy consumption will be reduced compared to conventional processes.
In the final process stage, the basic elements are combined specifically in tailored designer fuels. Depending on the synthesis path, either diesel or gasoline can be generated.
BioBoost is one of two projects for the development of new energy carriers selected for funding under the 7th EU Research Framework Programme from numerous proposals. The project will have a duration of three and a half years and be funded by the EU with a total amount of nearly €5.1 million (US$6.6 million). Funding granted to KIT will amount to nearly €1 million (US$1.3 million).
Due to its broader access to usable residues and a broader spectrum of use of the energy carriers, this project fits excellently to our bioliq project in Karlsruhe. Both projects profit from each other in an ideal manner.—BioBoost project coordinator Dr. Ralph Stahl from the Institute of Catalysis Research and Technology (IKFT) of KIT
BioBoost will focus on the production of various energy-rich intermediate products from biogenous residues and on testing and evaluating them with regard to their usability in, for example, the bioliq process. In addition to the BioSynCrude generated by flash pyrolysis in the bioliq process, BioBoost will produce, optimize, and evaluate other intermediate products.
Moreover, the project will cover the analysis of economic efficiency of the complete process, optimization of logistics chains, and the investigation of environmental compatibility. The objective is to significantly improve the efficiency of the use of biomass and residues in the future.
In addition to the production of customized fuels, such as diesel, gasoline, or kerosene, scientists will also investigate the production of chemicals such as methanol, ethylene, and propylene as well as plastics. Generation of electricity and heat from the energy-rich intermediate product also is subject of BioBoost.