Rasmus at his PhD defense

PhD interview: Flexible energy plants run on biomass can ensure future energy

Friday 15 Feb 19
The PhD students at DTU Chemical Engineering are valuable assets. We interviewed Rasmus Østergaard Gadsbøll about his project “Biomass Gasification Polygeneration”.

We are excited that we get to share some of the projects of our PhD students in this series. This time, we talked to Rasmus Østergaard Gadsbøll about his project.

What is the essence of your PhD project?
My project was about theoretical and experimental examinations of a flexible energy plant based on biomass. The ‘Polygeneration’ concept is a technological platform for gasification, solid oxide cells (SOFC/SOEC), and fuel synthesis, which can produce electricity when needed or convert electricity when in surplus. This way, the Polygeneration concept can balance large fluctuations in energy produced from wind turbines e.g. and store surplus energy as biofuel. My project consisted of three sub studies: 1) tests of gasification gas in SOFC; 2) experimental implementation of oxygen in gasification plants; and 3) design of large-scale Polygeneration-gasification plants.

What did you discover during your research?
The experimental studies showed that the connections between the technologies in the Polygeneration concept were relatively simple and very effective. Thus, we reached the highest performance ever reported for the fuel cells, and we showed that oxygen could be implemented in existing air-blown plants given certain precautions. The theoretical studies examined a larger design platform for gasification plants and showed how to design some of the most flexible and effective systems in the 100 MW range. One of the systems was patented and we will examine this further in future research projects.

What are the possible wider implications of your research for society?
To obtain the most profitable conversion of the energy system, large quantities of wind and biomass has to be implemented and an increased integration of the energy sectors is needed. Particularly, the interactions between the electricity, gas and transport sectors can be enhanced considerably using the plant concepts suggested in the project. Ultimately, this can lead to a smarter utilization of energy, lower costs in regards to phasing out fossil energy, plus export of the technology.

What made you apply for a PhD position at DTU Chemical Engineering?
I did my Master’s project at DTU Chemical Engineering and was asked if I wanted to continue my studies as a PhD. I was very engaged in the process of carrying out my Master’s project and was intrigued by the idea of working with theoretical concepts as well as larger experimental setups. Overall, I saw it as an exciting opportunity to broaden my horizon.

What does the future hold for you?
For now, I have chosen to continue my research as post doc for one year. There were a number of tasks, which I wanted to follow up on and I find it an exciting field to work within.

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