Making gas from biomass is an issue that is subject to considerable discussion, but until now it has not proven very efficient. This is because the traditional way of doing so – directly gasifying the feedstock – had three core problems that appeared to have no logical solutions.
Firstly, the physical properties of biomass are variable. Biomass has non-preferred processing qualities: raw biomass is heterogeneous and has a medium-high moisture level. In addition, the tar formation results in an expensive cleaning process to remove the tar from the biomass. The third issue of traditional gasification is slagging (melting of inorganic traces) which also adds significantly to capital expenditure and operational costs.
In total, the capital investment, complex feedstock logistics and the eventual production of low-grade syngas creates business cases that can rarely compete with traditional fossil fuels and their supply.
Torrgas solves these traditional biobased gasification problems in its proprietary torrefied biomass gasifyer in Groningen. With this, we prove that biorefinement can be a technologically and economically viable and preferable business case.
How did we do that?
Instead of gasifying biomass directly, we used converted biomass in the form of biocoal: a homogeneous, pulverizable and moisture free feedstock. This biocoal is easy to gasify, because we can use the same modular systems again and again. The result is significant, a tar and nitrogen free drop-in syngas. This syngas can be used as drop-in gas for existing gas infrastructure or it can be upgraded for many applications in biobased chemistry. We also create a valuable by-product, char.
But it doesn’t stop there…
We’ve proven our technology, which paves the way to proving our business strategy. Torrgas is making a name for itself by licensing its technology for small-to-midscale biorefineries (plants) of 5-100 MW near appropriate locations. And we continue to search for niche markets to build the brand. It takes courage, but we dare to think smaller.