Newsletter #2

Newsletter #2 – March 2018

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FLEDGED project – one year of results

Experiments are performed on both biomass gasification and DME synthesis sections at CSIC, University of Stuttgart and ECN facilities. LUT and POLIMI are active in the simulation of the key plant reactors and the complete FLEDGED process, while INERIS and QUANTIS have defined the framework for the LCA and the risk and sustainability analysis. FRAMES, Ecohispanica and Sumitomo SHI-FW defined the economic framework for economic analysis and a first business case for Ecohispanica. In the first year of activities, a preliminary configuration of the plant has been defined and the focus is on first performance assessment and improvement. Sorption Enhanced Gasifier (SEG) and Sorption Enhanced DME Synthesis (SEDMES) require peculiar operating conditions for the indirect gasifier and the sorbent/catalyst mixture that are under investigation.

A more detailed descriptive infographic about the project is available here, as well as free downloadable material on project concept and results, presentations and publications.

Investigation on sorbent regeneration conditions at ECN, in cooperation with a visiting researcher from CSIC-ICP

Different regeneration conditions has been tested in sorption-enhanced DME synthesis (SEDMES), to assess the effect on the catalyst and the sorbent performance. It was shown that regeneration by temperature swing up to 400 °C improves the DME yield both pre- and post-water breakthrough. The adsorbent capacity clearly increases with temperature swing to 400 °C and indications are that the temperature swing also improves the catalyst activity or the adsorbent slip level. Ongoing tests are helping finding better operating conditions for the SEDMES process, involving optimal functioning of both the catalyst and the adsorbent. More recently, cooperation between CISC-ICP and ECN has intensified with the starting of advanced SEDMES testing with CSIC synthesised catalyst materials at ECN laboratories. The picture shows CSIC-ICP researcher Dalia Liuzzi (right) and ECN researcher Özlem Pirgon in ECN’s chemical lab, preparing samples for parallel testing of sorption-enhanced reactions.

Experiments in the BFB gasifier at CSIC facility

In the 10-30 kWth bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) facility at CSIC, the testing of the sorption enhanced gasification (SEG) has started. Experiments using a residual biomass from agricultural activities are being carried out, studying the influence of steam, amount of CO2 sorbent and gasifier temperature.

Proper results in terms of syngas composition and char conversion have been obtained for the SEG process. Steady-state operation under the different conditions analyzed has been satisfactorily reached. In the coming tests, alternative residual biomasses will be tested.

Detailed modelling of direct DME synthesis reactor at POLIMI

A steady state heterogeneous model of a single tube of a fixed bed multi tubular reactor for direct DME synthesis was developed. The model consists of i-species mass, energy and momentum balances written in 2D cylindrical coordinates, coupled with i-species mass and energy balances for the catalyst phase accounting for concentration gradients (1D) in an isothermal, isobaric pellet. This model provides information about the complex interactions between the chemical kinetics and the transport phenomena occurring in the reacting environment. The results obtained can be used to size the reactor and settle the operating conditions in order to increase the DME productivity and control the temperature hot-spot. The main task of the second year project is the development of the dynamic model for the sorption-enhanced DME synthesis reactor, starting from the conventional reactor model.

Methodology definition and data collection for risk assessment and impact evaluation started

Data collection for the sustainability and process safety analysis has started. A key driver behind this project is the need to reduce CO2 emissions from road transport, which currently accounts for one-fifth of the EU’s total fossil fuel-based CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. Quantification of the improvement of FLEDGED process compared to reference scenarios is hence of the essence.

Evaluation of the environmental, safety, air quality and socio-economic impacts for the FLEDGED value chains are the next steps that will be undertaken.

Safety analysis on the plan will be also performed, considering hazard identification and recommendations for risk management.

Modeling of indirect steam gasification as a first step for SEG models development at LUT

The paper presented a modelling method for interconnected gasifier-combustor system and an example study. The reactors were modelled three-dimensionally using a semi-empirical modelling concept developed at Lappeenranta University of Technology. The Fortran-written model combines modelling of all major heterogeneous and homogeneous combustion and gasification reactions, fluid dynamics of gas and solids, and heat transfer. Compared with fundamentals-oriented CFD models, the calculation time is very small, which enables practical engineering studies. The model was applied to study the effect of different gasification temperatures on the producer gas composition, heat value of gas, and cold gas efficiency. The object of study was a 12 MWth gasifier-combustor, in which both reactors were operated in CFB mode. The temperature level was adjusted by changing the fuel feed to combustor while keeping the fuel feed to gasifier at a constant value. Based on comparison with the measurements in literature, the model could simulate many of the observed trends correctly, e.g. the effect of temperature on CO and CO2 concentrations and the low conversion ratio of steam in indirect steam gasification. In future, the model concept can be applied to study sorption enhanced gasification.

FLEDGED Project has been presented at conferences and events

Results of the first year of investigation on FLEDGED system has been presented at national and international events and conferences in the last six months.

ECN presented FLEDGED project at Dutch NL GUTS meeting on Affinity Separation  in September 2017 and Simone Guffanti (POLIMI) presented a poster on his research on DME synthesis reactor modelling at GRICU PhD school 2017.

Jasper van Kampen (ECN) presented SEDMES concept integrated in the FLEDGED process at CHAINS2017 (Dutch national chemistry conference, December 2017) in a plenary focus session “Making the molecules of the future: Sustainable Chemistry and Energy”. The poster and the presentation are available in the download section. SEDMES concept and experimental results on catalyst activity in the presence of water have been presented by ECN at The Netherlands Catalysis and Chemistry Conference (NCCC) in March. A poster related to the investigation into the impact of the regeneration conditions on the catalyst performance for the sorption-enhanced DME synthesis (SEDMES) is available for download here.

FLEDGED website is online…

FLEDGED website is online, with description of the process concept, of the project structure and of the consortium. Publications and informative material are available and will be updated during the project. A project presentation and a poster are freely available here, while an infographic can be downloaded here.

… and Twitter and Facebook profiles will keep the general public aware of project advancement.