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Integrated Home Energy from Waste & Biomass. Tom Horgan and Noa Simons February 6, 2009. Executive Summary Introduction Research Summary Integrated Home Energy System (IHES) Wrap Up. Outline. We propose to build and market an integrated home energy system .

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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


Research Summary

Integrated Home Energy System (IHES)

Wrap Up

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

Multi-fuel (Biomass, MSW, Sewage), “Clean Gasification” based

Multiple energy conversion options (CHP, Gas Gen, LF, FC) with ability to run from NG/LPG if available


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

Clean Gasification - Enabling Technology for BTLTF (Biomass To Liquid Transportation Fuel)

Direct competition with crude products unrealistic

Executive Summary

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

Modern science applied to BLTTF has yielded many new concepts ready for advancement & commercialization

New technologies could make old concepts more viable


Research literature, 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)

Electricity is more valuable than liquid fuels

Distributed Generation

Electricity is the most valuable form of energy

Electricity generation only ~33% efficient nationwide (line losses)

Household waste contains 30% of total energy used

On site generation saves money, is green and enables sense of self sufficiency

Critical Technology

Core technology development for distributed generation is same for all biomass conversion processes (gasification, cleaning, drying)

Integrated Home Energy from Biomass & Waste

Market Opportunity (2008 Data)

The State of Energy

the state of energy
Usage & LossesThe State of Energy

World Oil Reserves

The State of Energy

  • Estimates on proven reserves are historically low (reserve growth) and have been “running out” since the 30’s
  • Unproven (P50) and untapped reserves available (arctic)
  • Prices may not rise a quickly as predicted


The State of Energy

1% of All Biomass

On Earth

(~ 50 cubic miles proven reserves as of 2008)

Note: All of the dewatered sludge in NYS contains enough energy for ~ 30 gas stations


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 to 20 MJ/kg

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

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

5 to 15x more input energy for BTLTF

The State of Energy

Market Volatility

The State of Energy

research summary
Research efforts…

Focused on evaluation of BTLTF technologies such as Fischer Tropsch, Methanol, MTG

Uncovered issues with gasification that prohibited commercialization

Shifted to catalytic gasification and ionic liquids as means of addressing issues

Settled on distributed generation as the most promising route to profitability in biomass conversion

Research Summary
research summary14

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 (IHES)

Research Summary
research summary15
Future & Concurrent Research

Robust Gasification

Gasification drawbacks are major impediment to commercialization

Conversion processes all require clean syngas (particulate and tar)

Conversion processes require different H2/CO ratio

Microchannel FT synthesis requires pure H2/CO (free of N2 and CO)

Robust gasifier concept incorporates advanced cleaning, CO2/N2 filtration and shift catalyst for control of H2/CO ratio

Solution for all gasification processes

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%)

Concept (micro CHP)

Integrated Home Energy

Heat & Power

Feed Prep







N2/CO2 Removal





Cleaning/ Scrubbing



integrated home energy18
IHES Concept

IHES is micro CHP Unit that supplies heat and power to residence

Gasifier accepts MSW and Biomass feedstocks

NG/LPG can also fuel generator and be used for start up energy/emergency back up

Net metering provides opportunity for net positive gain

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy19
Business Case (Avg Household, 4 people)

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

Annual Cost: $1800

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

Assume 60% gasifier efficiency, 30% electric and 70% thermal recovery

Gasify all MSW and 50kg wood per day

All electricity supplied with heat in excess

Wood cost = ~ $330 annually

Annual Savings = $1800 - $330 = $1470

NG could supplement in absence of wood

Integrated Home Energy

integrated home energy20
IHES Component Development

Feed preparation/pretreatment

Chipper/shredder must be able to prepare both wood and MSW

Grind/mixing for uniform gasification


Advanced dewatering for on site sewage treatment (much later development)


Recover internal heat to pre-dry feed for improved efficiency

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy21
IHES Component Development


Must supply heat & syngas from a variety of waste and biomass feedstocks

Gas Cleaning

Cyclone, cold water quench followed by sand filter. Research advanced methods.

CO2/N2 membrane filtration (much later development for microchannel FT)

Water Gas Shift

Design and implement WGS for H2/CO control

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy22
IHES Component Development

Energy Storage

Battery module for start up.

NG functionality can also support start up and back up capability

Controls & Software

Control methods for WGS (control steam on outlet temp)

Control methods for heat rejection

Control methods for load following (much later development)

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy23
Phased Development Plan

Phase 1: Proof of Concept with Advanced Gasification Development (6 months)

Assemble and test a simple downdraft gasifier/gas generator system on wood (Zanoni)

Downselect and purchase gasifier, gas generator, chipper, etc

Research/validate wood gasification (mc, wood type, etc).

Assemble/test and develop heat rejection, gas cleaning

Advanced Gasifier Development (Horgan)

Test & Development, MSW gasification methods

Evaluate methods of feed prep, required temperatures, etc

Research/development/test CHP functionality

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy24
Phased Development Plan

Phase 1: Cost Estimates*


Purchase 2 gasifiers, NG generator (~ $10 to 15K)

Misc tools/test equipment ($1 to $3K)

One Computer - Zanoni ($1K)

Additional Hardware for BOP ($3 to 5K)

Salaries: 2 x $90K * 0.5 = $90K

Rental: $1 to $1.5K /per month = $6 to $9K

Total: ~ $120,000

* Should have Zanoni do this right

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy25
Phased Development Plan

Phase 2: Prototype Demonstration with More Gasification Development (6 months)

Integrate advanced gasification, generator and CHP loop into homogeneous unit (Zanoni)

Validate CHP functionality/software & controls

Develop detail drawings, design system layout & enclosure

Assemble and test prototypes

Advanced Gasifier Development (Horgan)

Test & Development of integrated shift for H2/CO control

Research/development of membrane CO2/N2 removal

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy26
Phased Development Plan

Phase 2: Cost Estimate


Custom designed gasifier & system components ($100 to $150K)

NG Generator ($3K)

Shift reactor, software & controls ($15K)

Software: Solid Works ($10K)

Salaries: 2 x $90K * 0.5 = $90K

Rental: $1 to $1.5K /per month = $6 to $9K

Total: ~ $235/285K

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy27
Intellectual Property

Multifuel, gasification based CHP system for residential use

Robust Gasifier: multi-fuel, with H2/CO control and advanced cleaning technology


Multiple patents for multi-fuel gasifier with specific processing methods

None found for IHES system as conceived

Integrated Home Energy
integrated home energy28

No direct competition in Multi-fuel, gasification based residential scale systems

Community Power Corp – Wood fueled systems for farms/light industrial

Main competition Micro CHP NG Systems

Marathon Engine Systems: NG Micro CHP for hot water systems

Freewatt: Forced hot air w/ 1.2 kW Honda Generator – heat following

Integrated Home Energy
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

research summary32
Liquefaction & Pyrolysis

Do not synthesize transportation grade fuel without upgrading (undeveloped)

Pyrolysis oils are 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)

Storrs process (describe & why shut down)

Research Summary
research summary33
Fischer Tropsch Synthesis




Research Summary
research summary34
Fischer Tropsch Synthesis-

Gasification – covered as a separate topic

FT Synthesis Reaction Chemistry

Research Summary
research summary35
Fischer Tropsch Synthesis-

Product Distribution

Research Summary
  • Low Temp FT
    • 200/240C
    • Cobalt
    • waxes
  • Hi Temp FT
    • 300/350C
    • Iron
    • liquids
research summary37
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 summary38
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 summary39
Methanol Synthesis

Commercial Production mainly from NG (coal)

Max Thermal Efficiency ~65%

Single pass 25%, Exothermic, Thermo constraints

Research Summary

research summary40
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 summary41
Methanol to GasolineResearch Summary


320C Alumina

CH3OCH3  H2O + C2 – C5, alkenes,

cycloalkanes, aromatics

400/420C Zeolite

Light HC, CO2, H2

research summary42
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 summary43

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 summary45
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 summary46
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 summary50
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 summary51
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 summary52
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 summary53
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 summary54
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 summary55
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 lab57
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 systems59
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 energy61

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

integrated home energy62
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 energy63
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 energy64
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