- Written by Anna Strom
Today the Umeå Renewable Energy Meeting learned that while biomass gasification for the purpose of making fuels and chemicals would be used to produce biofuel in the Nordic countries, and preferably dimethyl ether (bioDME), countries in southern Europe might prefer to use it to produce heat. Italy and Spain were mentioned as countries where the technology might be taken into use. Alberto Gómez-Barea of the University of Seville, Spain, talked about this and described different types of biomass gasification technology.
Sweden's only biorefinery, Domsjö Fabriker at Örnsköldsvik, had been moving towards making products other than automotive fuel, according to company representative Björn Edström. While he did not provide details on the types of products being promoted, he did say that they could be made from biorefinery residual streams or lignin products.
Ionic liquids could be an alternative to the harsh pre-treatment methods currently in use by industry for breaking down woody materials into their components, Bio4Energy researcher Sandra Winestrand suggested. She described a collaboration between scientists in northern Sweden working on biomass-based processes, on catalytic and biochemical conversion processes, respectively. The group had obtained promising results for softwood (e.g. coniferous wood) using acetate-based ionic liquids, she said. There were comments from the audience to the effect that the price of ionic liquids, which some participants had mentioned as an obstacle, was coming down. Winestrand, who is also an employee of the Swedish industrial group Billerud-Kornäs, added that research was ongoing to find ways to reduce the price of ionic liquids and of using them in industrial-scale processes.
Jonathan Fagerström of Umeå University (UmU) described work designed to control the emissions of particulate matter from biomass conversion processes. Researchers from UmU and the Luleå University of Technology, part of Bio4Energy, were working together and looking in particular at the formation of potassium as a decisive element in the emission profile of biomass combustion and gasification.