- Written by Anna Strom
Bio4Energy may be close to delivering one of the final 'missing link' pieces of scientific knowledge on gasification of biomass from woody residue at high temperatures. Doing so would pave the way for industry to start attempting a technology scale up for the purpose of making biofuel on a commercial level, according to the project leader.Researchers in
The technology is known as entrained-flow gasification and, when applied to woody biomass residue or black liquor in the way it has been in Bio4Energy, has the advantage of producing a synthetic gas which is virtually free of impurities. This so-called syngas, in a second step, may be turned into biofuels (or energy carriers) such as methane, methanol, diesel or dimethyl ether.
A 2013 report on the potential of biofuels, part of a Swedish government investigation on a fossil-free transport fleet in Sweden, indicated that this type of biofuel production technology "can be competitive to fossil fuels [if] reasonable environmental policies" were put in place, such as a tax on emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse reference gas.
However, whereas the high temperatures used in entrained-flow gasification ensure that tar formation is kept to a minimum during the conversion process, soot production inside the biomass reactor—the gasification chamber in which the syngas is made—is a remaining impediment to the smooth functioning of the technology, Bio4Energy scientists have said.
"Reducing the formation of soot is one the biggest issues because it affects the economic feasibility of the overall biofuel production system through both investment and operating cost… and reliability of the plant", said Kentaro Umeki, researcher in Bio4Energy at the Luleå University of Technology (LTU) and head of Bio4Gasification, one of three research nodes in the Swedish Centre for Biomass Gasification.