Gas Processing | Modular Gas Plants | Honeywell UOP
The driving force to use and produce renewable fuels is the desire to prevent global warming, reduce greenhouse gases (CO2 emissions), and at the same time decrease the use of fossil fuels. Sulzer Pumps' pumping and process technology, which supports the conversion of non-food biomass into transportation fuels to power cars and trucks, can significantly contribute to biofuel manufacturing processes [Figure 1]. Bioenergy is already making a substantial contribution toward meeting the global demand for energy. Most of the biomass used worldwide is used for plain heating or electricity generation. However, there are also considerable opportunities for bioenergy relating to more complex applications like transportation. Global ethanol production—ethanol can be used as fuel for cars—almost doubled between 2005 and 2008, increasing from 34 to 65 billion liters annually. Global production of biodiesel, starting from a much smaller base, expanded nearly fourfold in the same period. Compared with the world oil demand of around 86 million barrels (1 barrel = 159 l) per day, biofuels still constitute a small share overall. This contribution can be significantly expanded in the future, reducing emissions of greenhouse gases [Figure 2] and increasing energy security.
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Any solid biomass including for example agricultural, city and industrial waste can be used to make synthesis gas using techniques similar to its production from . More recent developments includes a plant in the Netherlands, which is using liquid propane-1,2,3-triol (glycerol), a by-product from the production of , from animal fats and vegetable oils.
– To promote commercialisation of biomass gasification (BMG) to produce fuel and synthesis gases that can be subsequently converted to substitutes for fossil fuel based energy products and chemicals, and lay the foundation for secure and sustainable energy supply;
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Figure 2 shows possible synthetic routes and products that could be made from biomass in a biorefinery. The routes and products that follow each of the main initial processes, fermentation, gasification and pyrolysis are described below.
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For the production of ethanol from cellulosic feedstock, two main processes are under evaluation: biochemical [Figure 3a] and thermochemical [Figure 3b]. In the first—the biochemical process—biomass is broken down to sugars using enzymatic and/or chemical pretreatment processes and then converted to ethanol via fermentation. This process is similar to the production of first-generation ethanol because cellulosic biomass contains sugars as well. However, these sugars are much harder to release than those in starchy biomass are, and some are difficult to ferment. A secondary product of this process is lignin, which can be burned to produce heat and power or can be converted to other fuels and by-products. In the second, biofuels (and other bioproducts) can also be produced thermochemically from any form of carbon containing biomass. In this approach, feedstock is gasified at high temperature to convert biomass into syngas (CO and H2) which is then converted through various synthesis processes into bioethanol or biodiesel. This method is particularly important because as much as one third of cellulosic biomass—the lignin-rich parts—cannot be easily converted biochemically. At present, the total energy input needed for the production process may still be high, but in some cases, the biomass feedstock can provide most of the energy. Net CO2 emissions fromligno-cellulosic ethanol can therefore be almost 70% lower than from gasoline or first-generation bioethanol. This value could reach 100% if electricity co-generated using the by-product lignin displaced electricity from gas- or coal-fired power plants. Another very interesting thermochemical conversion process is based on pyrolysis and very intensively studied by several parties. The thermochemical biomass conversion process is complex, and it uses components, configurations, and operating conditions that are similar to petroleum refining. Consequentially, companies from the oil and gas field are also active in the development of advanced biofuels.
# Energy production through time, by region
At first sight, the words natural and synthetic within the term synthetic natural gas seem to be a paradox. SNG is in fact methane produced synthetically from biomass. Anaerobic digestion is the treatment of non-woody biomass by micro-organisms in the absence of oxygen. The products of digestion are biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, and digestate, a nutrient-rich waste. The biogas can be combusted to generate heat and power or further processed into a liquid fuel. The digestate can be used to condition soil.