GTI Green Earth Technologies

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GTI and Haldor Topsøe report successful operation of $35M pilot plant for converting woody biomass to gasoline; vehicle testing starting

Pilot plant integrating Carbona gasification with TIGAS syngas-to-gasoline process. Click to enlarge.

In a recently completed project, Gas Technology Institute (GTI) worked with Haldor Topsøe, Inc. on an integrated biorefinery to make renewable “drop-in” gasoline. The use of renewable gasoline could reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 92% when compared to conventional gasoline.

The almost $35-million pilot-scale project, supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE) integrated biorefineries program ($25 million from DOE, $9, 771, 659 cost-share), converted woody biomass into bio-derived gasoline by fully integrating and optimizing biomass gasification and syngas cleanup steps with a unique process to turn syngas into gasoline. (Earlier post.)

The test campaigns took place at GTI’s advanced gasification campus in metro Chicago.

First, a GTI-based Andritz-Carbona bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) biomass gasifier (left) converts wood into syngas. That syngas was cleaned of tars and other contaminants in a reforming process jointly developed by Andritz-Carbona and Haldor Topsøe.

Gti3Then the GTI Morphysorb process removed carbon dioxide and sulfur gases in an acid gas removal (AGR) pilot unit. For the last step (right), the Haldor Topsøe Improved Gasoline Synthesis (TIGAS) process converted the syngas into gasoline blendstock.

TIGAS, an improved version of the methanol-to-gasoline process, converts synthesis gas into gasoline in a single-loop process, thus eliminating the requirement for upstream methanol production and intermediate storage.

The resulting gasoline has a Research Octane Number (RON) greater than 93, no sulfur, no oxygen, and contains olefins ranging from 5-15 vol% and aromatics ranging from 30-35 vol%. Click to enlarge.

The basic principle in the TIGAS process is the integration of methanol/dimethylether synthesis and the subsequent conversion into gasoline in a single synthesis loop. As the methanol/DME synthesis is very flexible, a variety of synthesis gas compositions may be applied.

The TIGAS process offers a number of benefits, including the elimination of the intermediate production and storage of methanol; the integration of the methanol reaction to form DME immediately; improved conversion efficiency, which reduces steam consumption; and the potential for CO2 removal.

Topsøe’s TIGAS process is based on in-house research and development of process and catalysts.

Other partners included forest products company UPM, who provided the wood feedstock, and Phillips 66, who assisted with design, supervised fuel testing, arranged fleet testing and provided funding.

In October 2013 the team produced about 4, 000 gallons of gasoline suitable for use as a gasoline blendstock. This was used for single-engine emissions testing, demonstrating that renewable gasoline would meet EPA standards in blends up to 80%.

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