|The multi-stage bioliq process produces high-quality synthetic fuels from straw and other biogenous residues. Graphic: N. Dahmen, KIT/IKFT. Click to enlarge.|
The synthesis stage of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’s (KIT’s) multi-stage bioliq pilot plant has begun operation and has produced biogasoline. All stages of the bioliq process—flash pyrolysis, high-pressure entrained-flow gasification, and now synthesis—have now been realized and the project will now be completed by testing the entire process chain and optimizing it for the large industrial scale.
As soon as all stages of the bioliq process will have been linked, the pilot plant will supply high-quality fuel from straw, probably in mid-2014. The complete bioliq process (Biomass to Liquid Karlsruhe) comprises four stages (earlier post):
Flash pyrolysis at decentralized plants converts dry residual biomass—that arises in a widely distributed manner and possesses a low energy content—into a substance of high energy density similar to crude oil. This substance, the so-called bioliqSynCrude, can be transported over long distances in an economically efficient manner and is subjected to further central processing.
A high-pressure entrained flow gasifier converts the bioliqSynCrude to a tar-free syngas at temperatures above 1200 °C and pressures of up to 80 bar. This synthesis gas is mainly composed of carbon monoxide and hydrogen.
Downstream hot gas cleaning removes impurities such as particulate matter, chlorine and nitrogen compounds.
In the synthesis stage, this synthetic gas is specifically composed to high-quality fuels. Depending on the synthesis path, either diesel or gasoline can be generated.
This four-staged bioliq process developed by KIT accounts for the fact that straw and other biogenous residues have a low energy density and arise in a widely distributed manner. The bioliq process thus allows for the economically efficient large-scale production of high-quality engine-compatible designer fuels. A 2009 study pegged the cost of biosynfuel from a large bioliq plant at around (US$3.0/gallon US). (Earlier post.)
The bioliq synthesis stage was the last section of the pilot plant to start operation. The synthesis stage converts synthesis gas into gasoline fuel based on two reaction steps. Maximum utilization of the carbon contained in the biomass with a minimum investment volume is achieved by direct conversion of the synthesis gas into dimethyl ether in the first reaction step, followed by gasoline synthesis.
Construction of the bioliq synthesis stage required an investment of about €22 million (US$30 million), 50% of which was financed by the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection (BMELV) and from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The BMELV funds were provided via the Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. (FNR, Agency for Renewable Resources), the ERDF funds via the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economics.
The remaining investment costs are borne by KIT and its industry partner Chemieanlagenbau Chemnitz GmbH. The latter projected, delivered, assembled, and commissioned the bioliq synthesis stage. Under a joint cooperation contract, it will also participate in future research and development work as a partner of KIT.