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Category Archives: Biomass


Robert H. Williams, Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton University

12 January 2005



• It seems feasible to make a major contribution in addressing challenges posed by the automobile—in this quarter century—via production and use of designer synfuels from coal/biomass with CCS

    • Major technical uncertainty is “gigascale” viability of CO2 storage—many more “megascale” CO2 storage demos needed…soon
    • Biomass synfuel production technology must be brought to commercial readiness (commercial gasifier needed) and demonstrated…new Swedish biomass synfuel test facility at former BIGCC demo site
    • Also demos needed for synfuels plants with CCS…but radical new technologies not needed


  • Carbon mitigation policy needed
  • Institutional/cultural challenges:
    – Overcoming widespread ill feelings about coal synfuels costly synfuels failures of late 1970s-early 1980s
    – Political will to enact ambitious automotive efficiency improvement policy
    – Coalition-building for proposed strategy—across multiple industries and
    involving international collaborations (e.g., among Australia, Brazil, China, US)



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• What is biomass?
• Chemical and physical properties
• Biomass and energy – thermal conversion to heat and electricity or syngas and hydrolysis/bioprocesses to liquid and gaseous fuels
• Biomass resources and production
• Biomass to electricity
• Biomass to biofuels and hydrogen
– Grain versus residual lignin-cellulosic feed stocks
– Gasification, hydrolysis, bioconversion processes
• Biorefineries employing modern biotechnology


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ERK5 – CT – 1999 – 0004



This is the final report of the STRAWGAS-project “Straw gasification for co-combustion in large CHP-plants”. The report covers process validation of the gasification and gas cleaning tests that were carried out in 2000 and the design study of a 100 MWth gasifier. Process validation and design study covers gasification of 100% straw and a fuel mix of straw and wood.

The project partners Foster Wheeler Energia Oy and ENERGI E2 A/S (former Elkraft Power Company) have executed the major part of the project with VTT Energy (Finland) and TK energi (Denmark) as valuable sub-suppliers. The project has received substantial economical support from the European Commission.

The experimental research consisted of 3 main tasks:

• The capability of the developed feeding system to feed loose straw into the gasifier
• The optimal process conditions and additives for gasifying loose straw
• The capability of the selected gas cleaning system to make the gas suitable for cocombustion
in large CHP-plants

In the design study a full-scale straw gasification plant of 100 MWth and the integration with an existing large CHP plant was investigated. The practical solutions of all unit operations
were developed. The budget for a complete plant was calculated and consequently the overall project economy was assessed. The result of the process validation and design
study can be the technical and economical basis for a decision to built a demonstration plant.

This project was carried out in the period from April 2000 to May 2001.



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Hydrogen from Biomass : State of the Art and Research Challenges


Thomas A. Milne, Carolyn C. Elam and Robert J. Evans
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Golden, CO USA



This report is a review largely of thermochemical research studies for the formation of hydrogen from whole biomass and stable intermediate products from biomass. The purpose of this report is to serve as a baseline of the state of the art and to identify research opportunities that can be conducted within a new Task of the International Energy Agencys (IEA) Programme on the Production and Utilization of Hydrogen. This new Task, Task 16  Hydrogen from Carbon Containing Materials, will begin work in early 2002. Subtask B addresses Biomass to Hydrogen. The Task Leader is Elisabet Fjermestad Hagen, Norsk Hydro ASA, N-0246, Oslo, Norway. Included in this report are references to the thermal gasification of biomass. These were reviewed in cooperation with the IEA Bioenergy Programme, specifically the Gasification Task – Suresh Babu, Task Leader.


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IFRF – Combustion Journal – 1999 – 2001

The most commonly used gasification technologies are fixed bed and fluidized bed gasifiers. Fixed bed gasifiers are employed in the low-capacity range of some MWth, fluidized bed installations, typically in the range above 5 MWth.

The gas produced in the gasifier can be used in various ways for electricity production or for the production of process heat. The systems differ with respect to efficiency, costs, and demand on the gas quality. Engines are suited for electric capacities between ca. 50 kWe and 10 MWe in connection with atmospheric fixed-bed gasifiers. From a capacity of about 5 MWe gas turbines, often in combination with a fluidised bed gasifier, are an alternative. In order to avoid fouling and deposits in the engine, the gas should be to a large degree tar- and dust-free. The requirements for fuel cells are more stringent, however a clear concept about allowed concentrations in the product gas is not yet available.

The gasifiers available on the market today exceed the indicated values by far when operated without gas cleaning. The removal of both tar and particles is therefore a requisite. The use of the product gases for thermal purposes does not make such high demands on the quality regarding tar and dust content. So for those applications it is not necessary to provide for a special gas cleaning.

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