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Integrated Home Energy from Waste & Biomass. Tom Horgan and Noa Simons February 6, 2009. Executive Summary Introduction Preconception, Expectations, Distributed Generation Research Summary The State of Energy: Crude vs BTLTF Conversion Route Energy & Economic Comparisons

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integrated home energy from waste biomass

Integrated Home Energy from Waste & Biomass

Tom Horgan and Noa Simons

February 6, 2009

Executive Summary


Preconception, Expectations, Distributed Generation

Research Summary

The State of Energy: Crude vs BTLTF

Conversion Route Energy & Economic Comparisons

Pyrolysis, Liquefaction, MTG, FT Synthesis

Gasification: Analysis & Modeling

Catalytic gasification, ionic liquids

Integrated Home Energy System

Integrated Home Energy System (IHES)

Concept Description

Component Functions/technologies

Phased Development Plan

Estimated timeline/cost

Additional Topics

How do we find the “google in a haystack”

Wrap Up

executive summary
We propose to build and market an integrated home energy system.

Multifeed – Biomass, MSW, Sewage

“Clean Gasification” based

Multiple energy conversion options (CHP fuel cell, Gas Gen, LF)


Lean (saves $), Green (recycle), Mean (self sufficiency)

Clean Gasification - Enabling Technology for BTLTF

Direct competition with crude products unrealistic

Additional Discussion

Biomass Research database is massive. How do we find the “Google in a haystack”?

Executive Summary

Alternative energy field was exploding with oil prices reaching $150/barrel in 2008

Modern science applied to BLTTF (Biomass To Liquid Transportation Fuel) has yielded research databases full of new concepts ready for advancement & commercialization


Search databases, talk to scientists, down-select concepts, develop business plan and commercialize


Majority of research dollars to bioethanol and bio“diesel”

Liquefaction, pyrolysis - low grade fuels for heating

Low fraction of alkanes, upgrading methods in research phase

FT synthesis only proven route to diesel

Highly Capital Intensive (pure syngas), nonselective

Methanol is doable – trouble as a transportation fuel

MTG considered failed technology (durene)

Gasification technology major obstacle for all three

Inefficient (drying), expensive (multistep cleaning)

Energy density of green biomass ¼ of crude (out of the ground)

Distributed Generation

Electricity generation ~33% efficient nationwide

Household waste contains 30% of total energy used

50 kg/day can supply remaining electricity with heat in excess

Core gasification technology development required for all biomass conversion processes

Homeowner saves money, goes green and increases sense of self sufficiency

the state of energy
Usage & LossesThe State of Energy

World Oil Reserves – “Proven” vs “Unproven”

The State of Energy

Market Opportunity

The State of Energy

Comparing Fossil & Biomass Fuel Conversion

Fossil Fuel: Millions of years worth of algae (crude) & biomass (coal) cooked and condensed by the earth

Biofuels: Wood, sludge, farm waste, etc that needs to be dried and converted

Crude Oil (raw) – 42.7 MJ/kg

Gasoline - 43.5 MJ/kg (~80%)

Diesel - 42.8 MJ/kg (~85%)

Biomass/Solids – 6/20 MJ/kg

MTG Gasoline - 43.5 MJ/kg (< 50%)

FT Diesel - 42.8 MJ/kg (< 60%)

5 to 15x more input energy

The State of Energy

research summary
Liquefaction & Pyrolysis

Do not synthesize transportation grade fuel without upgrading (undeveloped)

Pyrolysis oils are product is corrosive

Biopetrol model is liquefaction of sludge to fuel oil/burn on site – business plan claims 1yr ROI

Dynamotive works with multiple customers on retrofitted applications (bigger/stainless steel pumps, motors etc)

Research Summary
research summary13
Fischer Tropsch Synthesis




Research Summary
research summary14
Fischer Tropsch Synthesis-

Chain growth a function of temp, pressure, catalyst type & condition, reactor design

Exothermic reactions lead to poor temp control and wide distributions

Slurry reactors are best but suboptimal

Microchannel reactors may play but still new (Velocys)

The more pure the syngas the better (even for CO2 and N2)

Dilute syngas leads to large reactors (higher cost)

Research Summary
research summary15
Methanol SynthesisResearch Summary

Natural Gas



2H2 + CO CH3OH

50 Atm, 270C

Copper Oxide Catalyst

H = -92 kJ/mol



Coal or Biomass


O2, Air

Syngas (H2, CO (CO2, N2))







Syngas Recycle Loop



MTG Process

research summary16
Methanol Synthesis

Methanol Demand

37%  formaldehyde (resins/glues for particle board and ply wood)

21%  MTBE (gasoline additive that reduces exhaust emissions)

14%  acetic acid (chemicals for adhesives, coatings and textiles)

Used directly as a fuel…

Burns cleaner than gasoline (Higher Octane)

Corrosive to engine parts, gaskets, etc

Slower burning (advance ignition time)

Cold starting an issue (lower vapor pressure)

Absorbs water

Research Summary
research summary17
Methanol to GasolineResearch Summary


320C Alumina

CH3OCH3  H2O + C2 – C5, alkenes,

cycloalkanes, aromatics

400/420C Zeolite

Light HC, CO2, H2

research summary18
Methanol to Gasoline

Product Composition

The aromatic portion is at the high end of the gasoline spec (6/29%)

Aromatics are about 20% Durene – low melting point (icing). Separation is expensive.

Actual efficiency 44% (Hamiton).

Research Summary
research summary19

First step in FT, methanol, MTG, FC, generator

Biomass is heated under low oxygen conditions (Atmospheric, > 600C)

Steam sometimes added

Volatile material driven of leaving char, steam and tars

Char reacts with air and steam to form syngas (H2, CO, others)

Research Summary
research summary20
Gasification Reactors – Small Scale

Downdraft Gasifier

Outside dimensions (w/ hopper): 4ft h x 1.5ft d

Syngas production rate: ~ 35 ft3/lb of 15% wood

Max Capacity: ~700 lbs wood/day - 1000 ft3/h (320 MJ/h)

Outlet Temp: 50/75C after cyclone/filter

$2300 Assembled

$1400 Not Assembled

Research Summary

research summary21
Gasification - Issues

Gasification rated primary barrier to commercialization of BTLTF System

Very pure syngas required (essentially H2/CO)

Systems diluted with N2, CO2 lead to large reactors

Substantial Cleaning & Scrubbing required

Biomass variability leads to syngas variability

Holy Grail: Robust Gasification

Gasification System that receives ANY carbonaceous feedstock and returns pure syngas with tunable H2/CO ratio.

Research Summary
research summary22
Ionic Liquids

Dissolution of wood

Argyropoulos to Write Proposal on…

Dissolution of Sludge

Catalytic Cracking of Pyrolysis Products

Catalytic Gasification

To be included in future discussions with NREL

Research Summary
research summary24

Competing with crude on transportation fuels is a very tall order

Electricity has higher value and is easier to achieve w/ biomass

Gasification is core technology for both BTLTF and electricity generation

Distributed generation competes with electricity on site using waste & wood (or NG)

Integrated Home Energy System

Research Summary
integrated home energy
Household Mass Balance (Family of 4)Integrated Home Energy






8 Kg/day

~91 MJ/day



290 GPD

0.1% Solids

~ 7 MJ/day

Average Usage: ~320 MJ/day

Waste: ~ 100 MJ/day (~30%)

integrated home energy26
Quick Energy Calcs (Avg Household, 4 people)

Usage: 320 MJ/day 60% Electric, 40% Thermal

Annual Cost: $1800 (~ $5/day)

Waste = 30% of Total Usage (92% MSW, 8% Sewage)

Fuel Value Comparison ($/1000 MJ, Trillion MJ)

Conclusion: Make Electricity from MSW, Wood, Coal or NG

Integrated Home Energy


Integrated Home Energy









N2/CO2 Removal






Cleaning/ Scrubbing




Integrated Home Energy

2 kW Syngas Generator



Wood Chips, MSW, Sewage



N2/CO2 Removal



Energy Storage



Cleaning/ Scrubbing



Start Up

integrated home energy29
IHES Component Functions

Feed preparation/pretreatment

Wood (20%): Chipped/dried

MSW (50%): Ground/dried (pellitized?)

Sewage (99%): Dewatered, dried, ground


Supply Heat & Syngas

Generator: Particulate & tar free

FC: Particulate & tar free w/ CO < 1%

BTLTF: Particulate & tar free, H2/CO tunable, N2/CO2 free

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy30
IHES Component Functions

Combined Heat & Power

Gasifier: Heat for drying & residence

Generator: Electricity to residence & storage

FC: Electricity to residence and storage. Heat to residence and drying

Energy Storage

Battery Pack:

Provide start up power

Provide power when no fuel available

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy31
Component Technologies

Mechanical grinding/mixing/shredding

Wide availability at industrial scale

Biomass Shredders may also work for MSW

Residential Scale Shredder ~ $600 (Home Depot)

Continued research on integrated designs

Feed Drying

Feed drying improves efficiency but not required for biomass (probably required for MSW)

Heat produced exceeds household demands

Integrated heat exchanger to provide drying energy

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy32
Component Technologies


Cost of Pellitizing shredded MSW may be offset by efficiency & gas quality improvements

More research – implement in later phases

Manure Briquettes


Required if sewage is used but energy content does not justify expenditure

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy33
Component Technologies


Specs: Atmospheric, air blown, direct heated, 5kW

Numerous technologies available. Requires full scale evaluation process for down selection

Many more…

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy34
Component Technologies

Gas Cleaning/Scrubbing

Initial: Cyclone (particulate), cold water quench followed by sand filter

Research more advanced cleaning technologies for later phases

N2/CO2 Removal

Enabling technology for residential scale (microchannel) Fischer Tropsch process

Membrane filter technology:

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy35
Syngas Conversion Comparison

Gas Generator

Efficiency: Unknown on Syngas

CHP: Gasifier yes, Generator no

Other: Use NG generator, off-the-shelf gasifier

Fuel Cell

Efficiency: > 30% Electric, > 80% Overall, ~ 60% w/ Gasifier

CHP: yes

Other: built in desulph, tar cracking

Liquid Fuels

Efficiency: ~ 50% overall with significant development

CHP: yes

Other: Microchannel, N2/CO2 removal

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy36
Overall Approach

Contact NREL for Concept Evaluation

Visit Community Power & NREL 2/15

Evaluate additional gasification technologies for residential scale and down select

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy37
Phased Development Plan

Phase 1: Proof of Concept

Simple DD Gasifier/Gas Generator

Downselect gasifier & gas generator technology

Purchase chipper/gasifier/generator & test in Saratoga

3 to 6 months, < $15,000

Phase 2: Prototype Development

MSW Gasification/Gas Generator

Develop/test methods of MSW prep for gasification

Assess need for pellitizer/additional drying/advanced cleaning

Develop prototype skins/frame/etc

Purchase additional gasifier

2 to 4 months, < $10,000

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy38
Phased Development Plan

Phase 3: Advanced Concept Development

Advanced Gasification

Purchase H2, CO sensor or GC

Integrate shift catalyst/steam and controls

Test on fuel cell in cooperation with Plug Power

1 to 2 years, < $100,000

Phase 4 – Advanced Concept Development

Transportation Fuel Synthesis

Evaluate CO2 and N2 removal technology

Evaluate microchannel technology

3 to 5 years , < $1 million

Integrated Home Energy
additional discussion
How do we find the “google in a haystack”?

How do we get people to come to us with ideas?

Rapid Concept Evaluation

Berkshire Energy Laboratory

Additional Discussion
Integrated home energy system is marketable technology (< $10K in 5 years)

Gasification development supports future, large scale work

Need a lab and team to search the biomass research database

Fuel Value

The State of Energy


The State of Energy

1% of All Biomass

On Earth

(~ 50 cubic miles proven reserves as of 2008)


research summary44
Fischer Tropsch Synthesis-

Gasification – covered as a separate topic

FT Synthesis Reaction Chemistry

Research Summary
research summary45
Fischer Tropsch Synthesis-

Product Distribution

Research Summary
  • Low Temp FT
    • 200/240C
    • Cobalt
    • waxes
  • Hi Temp FT
    • 300/350C
    • Iron
    • liquids
research summary47

“Bio-syngas production with low concentrations of CO2 and CH4 from microwave-induced pyrolysis of wet and dried sewage sludge” by Diminguez et al (2007)

Research Summary
research summary48
Methanol Synthesis

Commercial Production mainly from NG (coal)

Max Thermal Efficiency ~65%

Single pass 25%, Exothermic, Thermo constraints

Research Summary

research summary50
Residential Systems

Develop commercially viable residential scale product for conversion of wood/biomass to electricity

System Concepts

Gasifier/SynGas Generator

Gasifier/Methanol Convertor/Generator

Gasifier/Fuel Cell

Research Summary
research summary51
Residential Systems - System Concepts

Gasifier/SynGas Generator


Simple concept

Relatively easy to implement on a small scale

Been tried and implemented


Low efficiency

Low heating value of syngas

Long term operational issues due to tars and particulates

Attempted by Community Power Corp & rejected on cost

XX Kwh/chord of wood

Research Summary
research summary52
Residential Systems - System Concepts

Gasifier/Methanol Convertor/Generator


Liquid Fuel

Clean Burning Methanol


Complex concept


Estimate XX Kwh/chord of wood

Research Summary
research summary53
Residential Systems - System Concepts

Gasifier/Fuel Cell


High efficiency CHP

Easy implementation


FC Reliability

Syngas Quality

Estimate XX Kwh/chord of wood

Research Summary
research summary55
Ionic Liquids

Air and moisture stable salts – electrically conductive, low vapor pressure, liquid at room temp

Composed of 100% ions - large organic cat ions (~1018), small inorganic anions (much less)

Applications: Stable solvents, acid scavenging, cellulose processing, petrochemical synthesis, transport medium, many others

Dissolve wood & other organics (0.2 to 2mm, < 150C, < 30min)

Safety: Low vapor pressure and highly recyclable. Some are combustible. Many are toxic if released to the environment.

Research Summary
research summary56
Ionic Liquids

Air and moisture stable salts – electrically conductive, low vapor pressure, liquid at room temp

Composed of 100% ions - large organic cat ions (~1018), small inorganic anions (much less)

Applications: Stable solvents, acid scavenging, cellulose processing, petrochemical synthesis, transport medium, many others

Dissolve wood & other organics (0.2 to 2mm, < 150C, < 30min)

Safety: Low vapor pressure and highly recyclable. Some are combustible. Many are toxic if released to the environment.

Research Summary
research summary57
Argyropoulos Patents

Low Energy Pyrolysis of Wood – WO 2008/098036 A1

IL Pyrolysis: Wood dissolved in IL, 190/200C (20 min), 10% more tar, 12% less char , 10% higher/more selective yield of distillates than Fast Pyrolysis

Fast Pyrolysis: Pretreated w/ organic solvents, 425/500C (2s), tar, char, liquids (200+ intermediates)

Low Energy Glucose from Wood for BioEthanol– US 2008/053139

IL dissolved wood is easily hydrolyzed by enzymes to release Glucose for production of bioethanol

Polymers and Composites from Dissolved Wood – US 2008/053151

IL dissolved wood can be blended with co-polymers, polymers and functional additives to form eco-friendly (degradable) composites

Research Summary
research summary58
Ionic Liquids

Potential for Transportation Fuel Synthesis

IL Pyrolysis produces a much narrower range of hydrocarbons with higher potential for catalytic cracking to trans fuels

Sludge dissolution and homogenous processing to fuels

Catalytic Gasification of Dissolved Wood (Syngas)

Other undiscovered routes to aliphatics/aromatics

Petrochina – Gasoline by alkylation of C4 olefins with iso-butane in ionic liquids

Research Summary
research summary59
Catalytic Gasification

Project Concepts

Low Energy Catalytic Biomass Syngas Gasification

Investigate routes with lower temps and pressures. Preprocessing.

Low Energy Catalytic Sludge Syngas Gasification

Investigate routes with lower temps and pressures. Preprocessing.

Catalytic Fuel Gas Gasification w/ Reforming

Steam vs. Autothermal, Modeling for feasibility (efficiency/cost)

Research Summary
research summary62
Catalytic Gasification

Syngas Methods

Noncatalytic Supercritical: (450/600C, 4000/6000 PSIG)

Hi Cap Cost, Limited Biomass testing

Low Temp Catalytic (225/265C, 400/800 PSIG, Pt or Ni)

Simple organics, not tried on biomass

Fuel Gas Methods

Catalytic Hydrothermal (350C, 3000PSIG, Ru or Ni)

Good carbon conversion, biomass & sludge

Supercritical Carbon Catalyzed (600C, 3700PSIG)

Good carbon conversion, coke, ash, plugging

Research Summary
berkshire energy lab
Robust Gasification

No suitable biomass gasification technology exists for FT

Require feedstock drying

Syngas must be cleaned of particulates/tars

H2/CO ratio must be fixed at 2

Feedstock variability significantly impacts gas quality.

Ability to gasify any carbonaceous feed is highly beneficial (residential)

May be a commercial product in itself

Berkshire Energy Lab
berkshire energy lab64
Robust Gasifier - Concept 1Berkshire Energy Lab







Res Solid Waste









H2 Sensor

Steam Control

Temp Control

distributed energy systems
Distributed Energy Systems
  • Residential scale gasification as part of fundamental research
  • Potential integration with Plug Power fuel cells when 5 KW system reaches $15k capex (~3 years)
  • Methanol synthesis research - though limited applications given conversions needed
  • OTHER?
distributed energy systems66
Distributed Energy Systems
  • Slide on Plug Power (Saratoga Energy) financials – partner?
  • Slide comparing liquid fuels to electricity – why methanol won’t work
  • Picture of unit
lab start up costs
Lab Start-Up Costs

Equipment needed (go to Fischer Scientific)

Site selection (NY, Lenox?)

New hires - skills needed (funding)

Partnerships to build

integrated home energy68

Compare w/ Community Power

Need to do gasification road show

Research Co2/N2 removal

Need to talk about CHP in gasifier vs FC

Energy storage? Charge batteries? What is efficiency of battery charging and usage?

“Microchannel Gasifier” – Gasify smaller amounts of feed with faster throughput???

Integrated Home Energy