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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.


Henry Gibson

There can never be enough bio-mass growth in the world to supply a large fraction of the energy needs.

The INFINIA dish collectors are much more efficient than plants and cheaper and more efficient than most solar cells.

The energy that comes from the sun is very large, but there are always misleading statements about it and its cost. The cost of energy delivered to its use must inluded the capital and other costs of collecting and delivering it. Solar energy is free as are all other forms of energy, but fossil oil is very cheap to collect and deliver. Coal is cheaper right now. ..HG..


Henry, I agree biomass is not such an efficient energy source, but it is there anyway, whether we use it or not. I would rather consider it an energy carrier and chemical supply than an energy source.
Most of our energy needs will be covered by solar, wind, nuclear, hydro, geothermal but we will still need a lot of chemicals and liquid hydrocarbons.
The biomass can be converted to hydrocarbons even more efficiently by using extra energy for H2 production and hydropyrolysis.
The biomass can then be further converted for (preferably) chemicals and plastics or for fuel.


From a fuel standpoint it's far more efficient to simply burn biomass in generating plants to charge EV's than it is to convert it into liquid fuel to burn in inefficient ICE's.


The point is we don't use biomass because it is uneconomical to transport the biomass to the powerplant.
This technology allows to convert biomass to a liquid with a much higher energy content which can be efficiently transported.
Secondly, if we want electricity, we much better use wind or solar. It's easy to say that electric cars are more efficient than ICE's. The fact is that liquid fuels will be used for a long time, probably for centuries (although maybe in much more efficient fuel cells) , which is no problem when these fuels are produced renewably.
It is simply fundamental chemistry that hydrocarbons contain much more energy than any conceivable battery.
Even in a hydrogen economy, ca


Even in a hydrogen economy, carbon (in hydrocarbons) will probably be the most renewable and efficient hydrogen carrier that can be found and recycled through CO2.
Even if the primary energy source is wind, nuclear, solar, even then hydrocarbons would be the perfect energy carrier.
At the moment, the most obvious source of renewable hydrogen for hydrocarbons is waste biomass. When demand will increase (because of economical changes) we will also make it from other renewable energy sources.


Regardless of the foundation of the economy, some biomass will be gathered regardless. Municipal garbage, tree trimmings, etc. are going to be produced and will need some form of disposal. If BioBoost can use these as raw material at a profit, it will do what Changing World Technologies only pretended it could do.


If it's uneconomical to transport biomass to the power plant then how will it be economical to transport biomass to the refining plant, where additional energy inputs must be used to turn it into liquid fuels, and then more energy lost when burned in ICE's? The efficient transfer of energy is over wires, and the efficient use of that energy for transportation is in EV's. Trucking biomass to a refinery and using large amounts of energy to turn it into liquid fuel, then transporting that liquid fuel for distribution, then burning it in an inefficient ICE, entails a long chain of energy loss.


A very well known large Japanese firm claims that it can chemically transform a letter size sheet of paper or the equivalent cardboard or wood or dry mass into 17 Wh of electricity. The transformer being relatively very small could be ideal to transform multiple dry waste 'on the spot' without having to transport it. The clean electricity produced could also be used locally. Many household probably produce enough wastes to produce an important portion of the electricity required.

This could be a smart way to reduce dry wastes collection and dumps and reduce the e-energy drawn from the grid for future BEVs.


Municipal waste, of all kinds, is an excellent source for conversion to energy directly or via carrier. It's transportation to landfill or treatment facilities is already paid for.


Reel$$...a small dry waste to electricity converter in your basement, garage, back porch or in your back yard could supply your house with most clean e-energy required without having to pay for collection, transport and disposal of wastes. Multiplied by 100,000,000 household, it could make a huge difference for the nation.

A simple input stock feeder could regulate the output of the converter to match your electricity demand.

Charging your future EVs with your own house wastes would be a difficult to beat worth while recycling application.


How much waste will an efficient sustainable household produce? I'm at one small garbage bag and one recycling bin every two weeks, not much energy available there in any form.


Put the bio fuel plants in the center of a 10 mile by 10 mile section of switch grass. That would be 600,000 acres producing 10 tons per acre year around with an average biomass transport distance of 5-6 miles.


Correction, that works out to 60,000 acres, or enough biomass to produce synthetic gasoline for about 100,000 cars per year.

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