CHEC. Foto: Thorkild Christensen

Transport of the future run on wood

Wednesday 21 Jun 17
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Contact

Anker Degn Jensen
Professor
DTU Chemical Engineering
+45 45 25 28 41

Facts about H2CAP

• The condensed oil consists of 20-40 % gasoline and 60-80 % diesel.

• Up to 54 % (based on energy content) of the wood is converted into condensable gasoline and diesel.

• 32 % of the wood (by weight) is converted into gas which partly can be converted into biogas and partly be used to produce the hydrogen used to run the process.

• 11 % of the wood (by weight) is converted into coke which for example can be burned for energy.

• The experiments so far were conducted using beech wood, however it is expected that the results are transferable to other types of biomass such as straw (planned to be tested in the near future)

Partners in H2CAP

The H2CAP project is made in cooperation between DTU Chemical Engineering, DTU Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Haldor Topsøe A/S. The project is financed by the Innovation Fund Denmark.  

New research at DTU Chemical Engineering is paving the way for cheaper sustainable fuels in the transportation sector based on 2nd generation biomass.

The project they are working on is named ’Hydrogen Assisted Catalytic Biomass Pyrolysis for Green Fuels’, or ‘H2CAP’ and it is an effort to produce bio-oil – a mixture of gasoline and diesel – in high quality that can be used directly in our existing infrastructure. The bio-oil can be produced from 2nd generation biomass like straw or wood and also hydrogen from sustainable energy sources like sun and wind.

The aim of the project is to find a simple and efficient way of producing bio-oil, and therefore the research team has developed an integrated process for high pressure pyrolysis of biomass and catalytic hydro-upgrading of the bio-oil before it is condensed as a liquid product. In the process, the small wooden chips are typically heated to 450°C in a hydrogen-rich atmosphere and with a pressure of about 15-30 bar in the presence of a catalyst in a so-called ‘fluid bed reactor’. And it looks promising. In the hot laboratory at the top of DTU Chemical Engineering’s three-storey pilot plant the researchers have now succeeded in transforming 23 % of the wood into gasoline and diesel which is the equivalent of an energy utilisation of 60-70 % in the oil. The energy utilisation is already higher than in the production of, for example, the popular bioethanol.

 CHEC. Foto: Thorkild Christensen   CHEC. Foto: Thorkild Christensen  
Bio-oil can be used  
directly in the infrastrcture
 Martin Høj, Magnus Stummann, Anker D.Jensen and 
Peter A.Jensen. Photos: Thorkild Christensen

Cheaper and more sustainable

There is also another aim of the H2CAP project: To create a process that is more sustainable and costs less. This part of the project has only been solved very recently by reusing the bi-products also made in the production of gasoline and diesel. Typically, 32 % of the wood is transformed into gas which can be used for producing natural gas or in the production of hydrogen that can be recycled in the process.

That the process uses hydrogen is also a sustainable advantage since the hydrogen can also come from electrolysis of water via wind and solar energy. In this way, the process can support the storing of energy from more sustainable energy resources.  Even though the sustainable biofuels are not cost competitive compared to their fossil counterparts, project leader and Professor at DTU Chemical Engineering Anker Degn Jensen is confident that H2CAP might change this.

“The new process that we have developed does not demand fermentation or mere complex thermochemical processes and can therefore show itself to be cheaper than the way we make biofuel today,” Anker Degn Jensen says.

The H2CAP project is made in cooperation between DTU Chemical Engineering, DTU Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Haldor Topsøe A/S. The project is financed by the Innovation Fund Denmark.

Read more about the H2CAP project here


360-video

Watch a 360 video of the bio-oil being tapped from the H2CAP equipment in DTU Chemical Engineering's pilot plant.
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