Gasification – a key technology in the energy transition and for the circular economy
Workshop: IEA Bioenergy Task 33 together with the Horizon 2020 GICO (Gasification Integrated with CO2 capture and conversion) project organized a workshop on 2 December 2021 to show the versatility of gasification technology.
Topics: CHP, SNG, H2, liquid biofuels, BECC(U)S, green and circular chemicals, storage and grid stabilization
Presentations are available here: http://www.ieatask33.org/content/home/minutes_and_presentations/2021_Dec_WS
The impact of fossil fuel use on climate change are now universally recognized, as evidenced by the many recent global initiatives of peaceful demonstrations or political initiatives for more support on climate action, as by the G20, the international forum that brings together the world’s major economies, and COP26.
The acceptance of climate change has a severe impact on how our energy and materials system needs to change in order to sufficiently reduce global greenhouse gas emission. Fossil fuels play an important role in our daily lives and to reduce our dependence on this we need to deploy a multitude of technologies which each play a role in achieving our targets. Gasification in that respect is a versatile technology that can be used for energy, fuels, chemicals, hydrogen and reach negative CO2 emissions if applied correctly. Energy intensive sectors such as power production, transport, steel making and industry rely heavily on fossil fuels and have a large CO2 foot print. To replace fossil fuels in these sectors, renewable energy sources (RES, i.e. the energy from naturally replenishing and virtually inexhaustible sources) can be a solution. RES are different and of these, biomass is probably the best known and oldest, since widely used before the advent of fossil fuels.
Biomass, meant as matter of plant origin, is by its inherent nature carbon-neutral and therefore its use rightly arises as a useful resource to achieve independence from fossil fuels and the targets of net zero CO2 emissions. Although from a chemical point of view the characteristics of CO2 do not depend on the original source, in environmental terms CO2 from fossil sources and from biomass have very different impacts. CO2 originated from residual biomass, and biogenic fractions, through the photosynthetic cycle of carbon dioxide, results infact in almost net zero emissions into the atmosphere. Coupled with CO2 capture systems, its use can even lead to a reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere, i.e. negative emissions.
Through the conversion of biomass into gaseous stream rich in CO and H2, it becomes possible to use it both as RES for direct application in conventional CHP systems, such as MCI and gas turbines, and for more advanced applications, as the use in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), for the production of H2, as synthesis gas for the production of gaseous and liquid energy carriers (i.e. biofuels, e.g. SNG, diesel and gasoline, methanol, DME) as well as for the production of (green) chemicals. Properly integrated with discontinuous electricity production from solar and wind, gasification of RES combined with electrochemistry can be used to store surplus electricity in molecules. Via this approach it acts as a buffer in the stabilization of networks. Finally, considering solid waste, gasification can also be a useful tool for a circular use of materials that would otherwise be disposed in landfills or by combustion, with a higher environmental impact.