Biomass conversion to liquid fuels is an attractive process for production of drop-in fuels such as diesel and jet fuel. This process would help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and decrease the need for using fossil fuels. This is not a new process, but due to the chemical and economical complexities, the process is not commercialized yet. The process is consisting of several steps where first the residual biomass needs to be collected and pretreated (drying, cutting). The pretreated biomass is then heated at a very high temperature (up to 1000 °C) in a process called gasification. During the gasification process, the biomass is then converted to the gas mixture mainly consisting of H2 and CO which is called syngas. To be able to convert this syngas to valuable products (diesel and jet fuel) we use the process called Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, named after two German scientists. The process uses a catalyst which enables the reaction to happen. Catalyst is a vital component of the process together with the process conditions (temperature, pressure, gas flow). During the process, the catalyst can deactivate via different mechanisms. This is not desired since this increases the cost of replacing the catalyst. The ideal would be if catalyst can operate at the same level for years. During the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, one of the side products is water. This water deactivates the catalyst and reduces the efficiency of the process. To fix this issue, our project will develop a process to remove the water and prevent the deactivation of the catalyst. In addition, by doing this the diesel and jet fuel production will increase, and the cost would decrease. In this way, the produced fuels will be competitive with the fossil fuels on the market. This might help in coming one step closer to commercializing Biomass to Liquid plant.
This project envisions the development of a highly innovative technology that reshapes Fischer-Tropsch synthesis via sorption enhanced approach. This has great potential for increasing conversion efficiency, hydrocarbon yield and promote cost reduction. The BIOSEFT concept will be pushed through process intensification, innovative hybrid materials, and will be optimized by means of reactor modelling and process simulation. The BIOSEFT technology is highly innovative and has never been presented before.
BIOSEFT will develop the application of tailored dynamically operated FT reactor where the water produced, as a by-product of the FT synthesis reaction, is systematically removed by solid water adsorbents (Step 1). The H2O-sorption active site is then regenerated in a separate step (Step 2), allowing for cyclic operation.