pfeil Bioenergy Solutions for the Economy Ė
Preview by David Baxter
  pfeil Technology Innovation for Biomass Conversion to Bioenergy Ė Preview by David Baxter  
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Previews by

Dr. David Baxter

Former European Commission JRC, EUBCE Executive Committee member

Bioenergy Solutions for the Economy

As the utilisation of biomass for biomaterials, biochemicals, biofuels and bioenergy significantly increases a bioeconomy is emerging that should in large part take over from the fossil-based economy that has evolved over several decades. Part of the shift to bio-based feedstocks to supply the new industries will use new technologies whilst retrofitting of existing processes currently using fossil fuels is an option in many cases.

The first presentation in this bioeconomy plenary session addresses retrofitting bioenergy into existing industries, both fossil-based and first-generation bio-conversion processes. The European BIOFIT project has been assessing ten retrofit cases across five industry sectors in direct collaboration with relevant industrial partners. In nearly all cases it has been shown that a retrofit approach is economically feasible with significant CAPEX reductions. A dedicated digital support tool has been developed for each of five sectors which allows a for quick economic assessment of possible projects and potential CO2 savings.

The second presentation looks at the integration of biogas systems into the wider energy supply infrastructure and the particular benefit of being able to operate biogas plants in a flexible manner to compensate for the intermittency of renewables such as solar and wind. A summary will be given of the complexity of modern biogas systems in terms of technical requirements for meeting fluctuating energy demand and will include a potential role that individual biogas plants could play as part of a large virtual power plant in local distribution energy grids. A view to future developments will be offered.

Technology Innovation for Biomass Conversion to Bioenergy

This plenary session is dedicated to technologies for the conversion of biomass to bioenergy. Technologies for this sector have been developed and in many cases used commercially for many years, although improvements in conversion efficiency are always possible.

The first presentation is focused on using an innovative design of an updraft gasifier coupled with dedicated gas cleaning system to achieve higher overall conversion efficiency through the use of a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). The system described is designed to operate in the power output range of 0.5 MW to 10 MW, typically for decentralised applications. Both greater fuel flexibility and load flexibility are also achieved. The presentation will cover specific achievements of the HiEff-Biopower project.

Anaerobic digestion and the production of biogas is well established in Europe using mainly large-scale AD installations designed to treat all kinds of waste, agricultural residues and crops. It is estimated that by 2050 about 30-40% of the EUís gas needs could be met biogas/biomethane. This presentation describes the achievements of the DiBiCoo project that is working towards preparing new markets in other countries, mainly in developing and emerging economies around the world where biogas plants have not yet become established to treat wastes and residues. All aspects of biogas processes from feedstock collection and pretreatment to fuel or energy generation will be addressed.

The third presentation covers an overview of torrefaction processes and the specific characteristics of each that lend themselves to treating different forms of biomass and the consequent success of each process. A summary of business models of technology suppliers and operators will be given. The thermal efficiency and economics of modern torrefaction plants is similar to pellet production plants thanks in the main to the beneficial use of volatile gas and concomitant energy savings. Moreover, the range of feedstocks that can be accepted for each torrefaction plant is much wider than for wood pellet plants.

For more on the other plenaries follow upcoming news.

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