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​Bioresource-based energy: from energy vectors to molecules of interest

For lignocellulose-based biomass and carbon-containing waste products

Published on 6 October 2016

Since the 2000s, Liten has been working on gasification technologies to turn lignocellulose-based biomass—which contains less than 50% moisture—into biofuel. In 2010, with the rising wood prices, society’s push for new waste treatment processes, and more stringent waste-related regulations, we refocused our bioresource-based energy research on waste. Since then we have sharpened our knowledge of alternative waste treatment processes involving polymers, waste treatment sludge, solid recovered fuel (SRF), waste wood, and used tires to reduce landfilling and incineration.



Our bioresource-based energy research approaches these issues from several angles:

  • Gasification process scale-up and development appropriate to lignocellulose-based biomass characteristics and volumes (such as moisture content of less than 50%); we cover drying and grinding and also manufacture syngas to specifications.
  • Custom process scale-up and development to recover energy or materials from wet organic matter.
  • Process development for waste-type resources; the processes developed are tailored to the characteristics of the waste material concerned—which are likely to differ from those of lignocellulose-based biomass—and factor in availability of supply, technical feasibility, and profitability.


We bring broad, deep knowledge of pyrogasification (a thermochemical conversion technology) processes spanning all steps in the resource treatment chain. First, various bioresources are collected then pretreated by drying, grinding, and torrefaction to concentrate the material. Next, the concentrated bioresources are gasified in high-temperature (800 °C to 1 500 °C) reactors; they can also be gasified under pressure to increase throughput. The energy yields of this gasification process have been engineered for optimal results. The syngas produced, a blend of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, offers several benefits. For example, it is a combustible material and a good precursor for the chemical reactions used to make various fuels, natural gas, and chemical molecules of interest. In addition, the syngas can be produced to different specifications according to its intended use. The gas is cleaned when it leaves the reactor to ensure any pollutants contained in the original bioresource not eliminated by the gasification process are removed. It is then turned into liquid biofuel or gas.
Our researchers work with three types of gasifiers, suitable for increasingly fine bioresource granulometries:

  • Fixed-bed reactor, a robust technology for power capacities up to 5 MW, suitable for cogeneration or to replace natural gas in industrial processes.
  • Fluidized-bed reactor, for power capacities from 10 MW to 100 MW.
  • Entrained-flow reactor, for granulometries under 800 microns and power capacities in excess of 100 MW.

Syngas quality (heat of combustion and purity), throughput, and required CapEx are lowest for fixed-bed reactors and highest for entrained-flow reactors.
Liten’s first two reactors have already been rolled out on an industrial scale. An additional entrained-flow reactor will go online late 2015 at Liten’s Genepi biomass conversion platform.
We are also working on the pyrolysis of bioresources to produce combustible bio-oils.
Liten is poised to help organizations recycle their resources—wood, lignocellulose-based biomass, used tires, polymers, waste treatment sludge—as well as manufacturers of equipment like torrefaction ovens and gasification reactors interested in these recycling techniques. Liten is seeking partnerships with end users so that our researchers can address the needs of all stakeholders as we develop these processes.

BENEFITS

Processes that improve waste recycling at the source

  • These new processes offer a viable alternative, in both environmental and financial terms, at a time when our thinking about waste is shifting; today, society is to a growing extent seeking ways to produce and use energy vectors locally.
  • They respond to the energy-independence concerns of local governments seeking alternatives to nuclear power, gas, and electricity.
  • The solutions we recommend are not necessarily “in competition” with existing processes; they help prepare for the future (for example biofuel) and improve waste recycling.
  • When used for cogeneration, these processes offer better energy yields than combustion.
PROJECTS

-    Liten is playing an active role in two of France’s major biofuel demonstrator plants:
. Gaya, which began in 2012, involves a consortium of eleven partners including Engie (formerly GDF Suez) and aims to synthesize biomethane from a mix of bioresources.
. Biotfuel, which was set up in 2010 with the support of French Energy Agency ADEME, brings together IFPEN and Total to develop a second-generation biofuel (diesel/kerosene-type) production chain.

-    Our researchers are also involved in several industrial partnerships in the field of bioresource-based energy:

  • Collaboration with CMI to develop a biomass torrefaction process using a tray oven.
  • A development contract with Valonéo for a high-ash-content waste gasification process (waste treatment sludge, recycling plant rejects, etc.) for small, local plants.
  • Collaboration with Leroux & Lotz (an equipment manufacturer with a fluidized-bed technology) and Sibuet Environnement (a bioresource supplier) on a process to gasify HCV (higher calorific value) solid recovered fuel (a mix of wood, paper, cardboard, textile, and plastic materials). This project is backed by Bpifrance, the French national investment bank, as part of a Single Interministerial Fund program.
  • Collaboration with Michelin under the TREC (Tyre Recycling) project to develop a gasification process for used tires. This project is supported by ADEME, France’s National Energy Agency.
  • Liten is also participating in the EU Mobile Flip project to develop mobile bioresource pretreatment systems—torrefaction, pyrolysis, and hydrothermal carbonization—to prepare resources locally. Torrefied biomass, which is water-resistant and energy-dense, is easier to store and transport.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • 40 researchers
  • Around 30 patents
  • 65 publications, including:

Nocquet, T, Dupont, C , Commandre J M, Grateau M, Thiery S, Salvador S. August 2014. Volatile species release during torrefaction of biomass and its macromolecular constituents: Part 2 Modeling study. Energy 72: 188–194.
Delrue F, Setier P A, Sahut C, Cournac L, Roubaud A, Peltier G, Froment A K. May 2012. An economic, sustainability, and energetic model of biodiesel production from microalgae. Bioresource Technology 111: 191–200.  
Froment K, Defoort F, Bertrand C, Seiler J M, Berjonneau J,  Poirier J. May 2013. Thermodynamic equilibrium calculations of the volatilization and condensation of inorganics during wood gasification. Fuel 107: 269–281.
Haarlemmer G, Boissonne, G, Imbach J, Setier P A, Peduzzi E. DATE. Second generation BtL type biofuels, a production cost analysis. Energy & Environmental Science 5: 8445.
Gauthier G, Melkior T, Grateau M, Thiery S, Salvador S. November 2013. Pyrolysis of centimetre-scale wood particles: New experimental developments and results. Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis 104: 521–530.



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FACTS & FIGURES