Processes for chemical bioenergy sources and fuels

"Key elements in implementing the objectives of the Bioeconomy Strategy are research into and development of innovative technologies to maximize the Flexibility, efficiency and sustainability of biorefinery concepts. They will enable a wide variety of different products made from biomass to be used as sources of materials and energy."

Dr. Franziska Müller-Langer, Head of the research focus area

Objective

This area of research focus is an important element of the overall process chain from the raw biomass material to biofuels and chemical bioenergy sources as products of biorefineries. In addition to process and concept development, it also comprises implementation on a laboratory and pilot plant scale, as well as assessment of technical systems. The primary aim is to contribute by innovative technology to the flexible operation, high efficiency and sustainable conception of biorefineries, thereby also fulfilling the requirements within the context of the bioeconomy.

To that end, chemical refinement focused on hydrothermal processes (HTP) will be advanced. The development of fractioning for solid-liquid and liquid-liquid separation plays a key role as a link between the individual areas of research focus (in particular in conjunction with anaerobic processes and HTP interim products). Another element is the development of synthesis gas processes to create high-grade products, focused on biomethane in the form of bio-synthetic natural gas (bio-SNG). In the short term, an exemplary HTP-based biorefinery concept will be developed. To that end, the work within the research focus area will concentrate on (i) analysis of relevant individual processes and required system components; (ii) preliminary trials for selected individual processes (e.g. HTP, gasification, methanisation to form SNG) and (iii) reparation of an accompanying technical systems assessment (focus: material and energy balancing, cost and economic viability, environmental impact).

Background

The word biorefinery refers to an integrated, multi-functional concept utilising biomass as a versatile raw material source for the sustainable production of various products such as chemicals, process materials, as well as bioenergy, including biofuels. Food and/or animal feed may be additionally created as by-products. There is in fact not just one biorefinery concept. The process/technology design depends on the input materials, the target products and the regional circumstances.

Nowadays, biofuel plants for biodiesel and bioethanol operate as multi-product facilities producing animal feed and other energy source materials in addition to biofuels. For future innovative, sustainable biorefinery concepts focused on needs-based biofuel production and supply, in addition to expanding the raw material base (e.g. lignocellulose, residual/waste materials, algae) and the product portfolio, methods will also have to be developed to make plant operations more flexible.

The research focus area designated "Processes for chemical bioenergy sources and motor fuels" is a key element of the overall process chain from the raw material biomass to biofuels and chemical bioenergy sources. In addition to theoretical process and concept development, it also comprises implementation on a laboratory and pilot plant scale, as well as assessment of technical systems. The primary aim is to contribute by innovative technology to the flexible operation, high efficiency and sustainable conception of biorefineries, thereby also fulfilling the requirements within the context of the bioeconomy.

 

Outlook

The "Processes for chemical bioenergy sources and fuels" research focus area is pursuing methods of advancing chemical refinement concentrated on hydrothermal processes (HTP). Other topics being worked on include the development of fractioning processes to separate valuable products from aqueous solutions and suspensions, and the development of synthesis gas processes for the creation of high-grade products, e.g. synthetic natural Gas (SNG). Accompanying these activities, in conjunction with the "Systemic contribution of biomass" research focus area it is engaged in enhancing the existing methods and tools of technology assessment (such as classification of technical development status and other technical criteria, cost-effectiveness and economic viability, environmental impact) and applying them to example biorefinery concepts.

Short-term research goals include the development of example biorefinery concepts based on hydrothermal processes. Among them are analysis of relevant single processes and required system components, preliminary experiments for selected single processes (e.g. hydrothermal processes, gasification, methanisation to produce SNG) and technical assessment (material and energy balancing, cost-effectiveness and economic viability, environmental impact). In the medium term, the focus will be on implementing selected biorefinery concepts on a laboratory and pilot plant scale and advancing them further. This will entail experimental implementation of the single processes and combined production utilising the laboratory infrastructure for hydrothermal processes, fractioning, gasification, gas purification/conditioning and methanisation, as well as modelling and balancing the single processes and the hydrothermal process-based biorefinery concept. The aim is to achieve further development and devise ways of optimising the overall biorefinery concept.

Flyer Biorefinery technical centre (3.42 MB)

The flyer on the biorefinery technical centre combines the most important processes (hydrothermal processes, gasification, gas purification, syntheses, fractionation processes) and the existing technical capacities.

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Important reference projects (Selection)

  • CapAcidy – Bio-basierte Capron- und Caprylsäure - Herstellung, Aufreinigung, Vermarktungsstrategie, Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung/Projektträger Jülich, 01.07.2017 - 30.09.2019 (FKZ: 031B0389A) 
  • DEMO-SPK – Forschungs- und Demonstrationsvorhaben: Einsatz von erneuerbarem Kerosin am Flughafen Leipzig/Halle, Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur (Inhouse), 04.11.2016 - 30.04.2019
  • HTC-liq – Entwicklung eines hocheffizienten Kaskadenprozesses zur Aufbereitung von Prozesswässern aus hydrothermalen Prozessen, insbes. der hydrothermalen Carbonisierung mit Gewinnung von org. Säuren, anschließender energetischer Nutzung und Prozesswasserreinigung, Sächsische Aufbaubank, 01.04.2017 - 31.03.2020 (FKZ: 100283030)
  • Fermenthen – Alkenproduktion aus Biogas zur Nutzung von Überschussstrom, Sächsische Aufbaubank, 01.10.2016 - 30.09.2019 (FKZ: 100244827)
  • BBCHEM – Aufwertung von kohlehydrathaltigen Stoffströmen zu bio-basierten Chemikalien. Teilvorhaben 2: Hydrothermale Umsetzung, Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung/Projektträger Jülich, 01.03.2016 - 28.02.2018 (FKZ: 033RK031B)

Important publications (Selection)

  • Köchermann, J.; Görsch, K.; Wirth, B.; Mühlenberg, J.; Klemm, M. (2018). "Hydrothermal carbonization: Temperature influence on hydrochar and aqueous phase composition during process water recirculation". Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering (ISSN: 2213-3437), Vol. 6, H. 4. S. 5481–5487. DOI: 10.1016/j.jece.2018.07.053.
  • Kröger, M.; Klemm, M.; Nelles, M. (2018). "Hydrothermal Disintegration and Extraction of Different Microalgae Species". Energies (ISSN: 1996-1073), Vol. 11, H. 2. DOI: 10.3390/en11020450.
  • Matthischke, S.; Roensch, S.; Güttel, R. (2018). "Start-up Time and Load Range for the Methanation of Carbon Dioxide in a FixedBed Recycle Reactor". Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research (ISSN: 0888-5885), Vol. 57, H. 18. S. 6391–6400. DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.8b00755.
  • Schneider, J.; Struve, M.; Trommler, U.; Schlüter, M.; Seidel, L.; Dietrich, S.; Rönsch, S. (2018). "Performance of supported and unsupported Fe and Co catalysts for the direct synthesis of light alkenes from synthesis gas". Fuel Processing Technology (ISSN: 0378-3820), H. 170. S. 64–78. DOI: 10.1016/j.fuproc.2017.10.018.
  • Zech, K.; Dietrich, S.; Reichmuth, M.; Weindorf, W.; Müller-Langer, F. (2018). "Techno-economic assessment of a renewable biojet-fuel production using power-to-gas". Applied Energy (ISSN: 0306-2619), H. 231. S. 997–1006. DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2018.09.169.
     

 

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