Electrification of biorefineries provides a powerful increase in production
A hybrid technology that integrates electricity into the biofuel process opens up possibilities to produce two to three times as much biofuel from limited biomass resource.
The project has studied ten different production routes with gasification, pyrolysis and fermentation of residual products from agriculture and forestry. Biofuel production technologies for lignocellulosic feedstock typically demonstrate carbon efficiencies in the range of 25-50%.
A theoretical analysis shows that carbon efficiency can increase to over 90 percent if the energy and hydrogen for the process are taken from electricity instead of from the biomass raw material. The products are called bio-electro fuels.
The hybrid technology with electricity provides approximately the same production cost for drop-in fuels as conventional production. However, the process requires renewable electricity in significant quantities.
A scenario analysis shows that a large-scale implementation of the most efficient hybrid technology has the potential to make Sweden self-sufficient in biofuels for domestic and as well as international transport, in time perspectives 2030 and 2045.
- The most important electrification techniques that can lead to this efficiency improvement are water electrolysis, direct heating and heat pumps.
- Gasification-based biofuel production from lignocellulosic biomass, e.g. bark or sawdust, has the greatest potential for integrated electrification. Other lignocellulose-based production techniques also show potential for integrated electrification with good efficiency improvements.
- The overall energy efficiency of the process is generally not affected by the electrification.
- The production cost for the hybrid fuels with integrated electricity is similar to or slightly higher than the corresponding production costs for biofuels, but lower than for the corresponding electro fuels.
- Greenhouse gas performance for all investigated alternatives is generally good as long as the greenhouse gas emissions for the electricity used in the process are low.
Results were presented (in Swedish) in a webinar om 17 May 2022:
Erik Furusjö, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden
Sennai Asmelash Mesfun, RISE // Mahrokh Samavati, KTH Royal Institute of Technology // Anton Larsson and Gabriel Gustafsson, BioShare AB
October 2020 - April 2022
Total project cost
2 210 000 SEK
The Swedish Energy Agency, the f3 partner organisations, BioShare AB, KTH, St1, Södra and Vattenfall.
Swedish Energy Agency's project number within the collaborative research program
The project consortium contains commercial representatives from the full value chain.