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GTI and Haldor Topsøe report successful operation of $35M pilot plant for converting woody biomass to gasoline; vehicle testing starting

Pilot plant integrating Carbona gasification with TIGAS syngas-to-gasoline process. Click to enlarge.

In a recently completed project, Gas Technology Institute (GTI) worked with Haldor Topsøe, Inc. on an integrated biorefinery to make renewable “drop-in” gasoline. The use of renewable gasoline could reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 92% when compared to conventional gasoline.

The almost $35-million pilot-scale project, supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE) integrated biorefineries program ($25 million from DOE, $9,771,659 cost-share), converted woody biomass into bio-derived gasoline by fully integrating and optimizing biomass gasification and syngas cleanup steps with a unique process to turn syngas into gasoline. (Earlier post.)

The test campaigns took place at GTI’s advanced gasification campus in metro Chicago.

First, a GTI-based Andritz-Carbona bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) biomass gasifier (left) converts wood into syngas. That syngas was cleaned of tars and other contaminants in a reforming process jointly developed by Andritz-Carbona and Haldor Topsøe.

Then the GTI Morphysorb process removed carbon dioxide and sulfur gases in an acid gas removal (AGR) pilot unit. For the last step (right), the Haldor Topsøe Improved Gasoline Synthesis (TIGAS) process converted the syngas into gasoline blendstock.

TIGAS, an improved version of the methanol-to-gasoline process, converts synthesis gas into gasoline in a single-loop process, thus eliminating the requirement for upstream methanol production and intermediate storage.

The resulting gasoline has a Research Octane Number (RON) greater than 93, no sulfur, no oxygen, and contains olefins ranging from 5-15 vol% and aromatics ranging from 30-35 vol%. Click to enlarge.

The basic principle in the TIGAS process is the integration of methanol/dimethylether synthesis and the subsequent conversion into gasoline in a single synthesis loop. As the methanol/DME synthesis is very flexible, a variety of synthesis gas compositions may be applied.

The TIGAS process offers a number of benefits, including the elimination of the intermediate production and storage of methanol; the integration of the methanol reaction to form DME immediately; improved conversion efficiency, which reduces steam consumption; and the potential for CO2 removal.

Topsøe’s TIGAS process is based on in-house research and development of process and catalysts.

Other partners included forest products company UPM, who provided the wood feedstock, and Phillips 66, who assisted with design, supervised fuel testing, arranged fleet testing and provided funding.

In October 2013 the team produced about 4,000 gallons of gasoline suitable for use as a gasoline blendstock. This was used for single-engine emissions testing, demonstrating that renewable gasoline would meet EPA standards in blends up to 80%.

The final test campaign in March 2014 produced sufficient quantities for testing to prove that the gasoline can be used in existing automobile engines. Around 7,770 gallons have been sent to a blending facility in Michigan to prepare it for a fleet test at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, Ohio.

Four pairs of vehicles will each log 75,000 miles comparing performance of the bio-based gasoline blend with conventional gasoline. Results will be available in September 2014.






I DON'T KNOW, but please stop yelling.

Roger Pham

For a pilot plant, the cost would be higher than for a large-scale and well-established process fuel production. I would expect that the cost of synthetic gasoline from biomass would at least be competitive with petroleum gasoline. THis is a highly streamlined and simplified process and can be expected to be more efficient and cost less than the traditional processes of gasification and F-T synthesis plus refining at the end, which are known to be less efficient. The claimed 90% reduction in GHG is pretty good efficiency, but I would like to see H2 added during the process to eliminate the CO2 release from this process and the maximize the gasoline yield per amount of biomass.

BTW, GTI is also involved with the IH2 process of Integrated Hydropyrolysis of biomass, in which the H2 is added during pyrolysis to produce a crude-oil equivalent bio-crude oil that is pipeline compatible for final refining, that is also has efficiency >90%. This process is predicted to be able to produce gasoline and diesel fuels at lower costs than petroleum at $100/barrel.


The ultimate expense is in the cutting and subsequent hauling of timber, scrub, and other. But the Pine Beetles are destroying much forest in the Pacific Northwest, Emerald Ash Borers are destroying Pennsylvania, and you could add lack of underbrush clearing in our national forests for increasing the risk of forest fire. We have to deal with global forest waste no matter what.

Did read a while back at GCC that biomass based gasoline manufacture is cost competitive with refineries. Could explain the proliferation of announcements that companies are entering the business.



That is a good point, one that I have made on here in the past. Cut the dead wood and make fuel. The U.S. government put out a request for bids on clearing the forests, no takers. Now that money can be made from the synthetic fuels the spreadsheet results may turn out differently.

Austin Lerwick

Nice article, it's really informative, but you are talking about woody biomass it will reduce to quickly because of the earth, there is limited numbers of trees and if we are going to create this woody biomass then there will be a risk of decreasing of trees.


LNG project execution

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