Electrolysis can make biofuel production more efficient

Combining gasification with electrolysis can make biofuel production 30 percent more efficient.

To optimize the conversion of forest biomass to biofuel, the group of researchers have evaluated a hybrid process that combines gasification with electrolysis.

Results show that the hybrid process enhances the product throughput by 15 to 31 percent, depending on gasification pathway.

Gasification is the most promising technology for production of forest-based biofuels, and it has been utilized in the demonstration plants Gobigas and LTU Green Fuels.

Up until today, the main barriers for commercialization of the technology has been high investment costs and difficulties reaching economic profitability on a larger scale. But the hybrid process studied here could change that and boost Swedish production of biofuels.

The integrated MCEC technology (Molten carbonate electrolysis cell) improves the process in more than one way. It not only offers a higher product throughput but also flexible conversion of electricity to fuel and vice versa. The technology also removes limits to capacity associated to the gasifier which could be an economic advantage. MCEC replaces several process steps: O2 production, hydrocarbon cracking, water-gas-shift and separation of CO2.

Initial costs for investing in the hybrid process are substantial, but are being compensated for by the enhanced efficiency. Production costs are calculated at 1 400-1 500 SEK per MWh, which is in the middle of the cost interval for different types of processes for biofuel production.

Facts

Manager
Sennai Asmelash Mesfun, RISE

Contact
sennai.asmelash.mesfun@ri.se

Participants
Andrea Toffolo, Bio4Energy (LTU) // Klas Engvall and Carina Lagergren, KTH

Time plan
July 2019 - December 2020

Total project cost
1 240 000 SEK

Swedish Energy Agency's project number within the collaborative research program
48371-1