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Biomass Low cost Advanced Zero Emission small-to-medium scale integrated gasifier-fuel cell combined heat and power plant

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BLAZE (Biomass Low cost Advanced Zero Emission small-to-medium scale integrated gasifier-fuel cell combined heat and power plant)

Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2020-08-31

The world is facing a massive energy, social and environmental challenge, that is particularly acute for Europe. World energy demand is set to increase. Oil and gas reserves are increasingly concentrated in a few countries. Europe imported energy is about 40%. GHG emissions have to be reduced. RES and energy efficincy have to be increased. Bioenergy production has to play a major role in the decarbonisation but new technologies have to be found in order to integrate biomass (especially residual/waste) and RES electricity to foster the biomass and RES sector in the RHC, CHP, biofuels and transport sectors. Therefore, BLAZE (Biomass Low cost, Advanced and Zero Emission) CHP hace the overall objective to develop:
1) bubbling fluidised bed (BFB) technology integrating high temperature cleaning & conditioning system (HTC)
2) integrated high temperature gas cleaning approach for HCl and H2S removal and an innovative component for thermal and chemical integration of solid oxide fuel cell
3) SOFC Large Module Stack (LMS)
in order to convert wider fuel spectrum with higher efficiencies (50% versus 20%), low investment (<4 k€/kWe) and operation (≈ 0.05 €/kWh) costs and with almost zero emissions; increasing competitiveness of European industry, energy system reliability and flexibility, biomass plants social acceptance.
Simulations, design, tests, technoeconomic, environmental and overall impact assessments and market studies, dissemination, exploitation and communication activitiews by the main gasifier, gas conditioning and SOFC European companies and research centres has been carried out as foreseen during the first 18 months, with only little delays due to COVID (e.g. closure of office and lab and delays in delivery and repairs) and technical issues (e.g. failure of lab equipment, more layouts and primary sorbents analyses and gasifier/combustor pressurization not foreseen) that does not seem to delay the subsequent activities (e.g. BLAZE integration) owing to the fact that:
1.activities even if delayed have been carried out (e.g. lab tests, pilot plant gasifier preparation, LSM construction, layout definition);
2.lab tests (tar catalysts, primary and secondary sorbents, SOFC button and stack), modelling/design/study (CFD, PFD, safety, legal) and components (Filter candles, LMS) main information to undertake the pilot scale activities are achieved even if the related deliverables not submitted;
3.delays of WP2,3,4 can be recovered within the 12 months between the conclusion of WP2,3,4 and the start of WP 6 (plant operation) because tasks can be undertaken in parallel and not in series (as foreseen).
Indeed, BLAZE succed to:
1. identify and characterise 10 samples and 5 mixtures representative of the most available European biomass species (particularly residues with low cost) suitable for gasification coupled to SOFC (see D2.1)
2. Determine composition and contaminants of bio-syngas (H2/CO ratio, humidity gas content, tar, trace elements, e.g. H2S, HCl, alkalis) that affect SOFC operation (see D3.2)
3. Determine and characterise catalysts for tar conversion to be inserted in the ceramic filter candles and related configuration and management (see section 1.2)
4. Undertake continuous biomass gasification tests that achieve 90% of carbon conversion efficiency, high gas yield and gas composition and pollutants concentration (particulate, organic and inorganic compounds) suitable for SOFC use (see section 1.2)
5. Model, Integrate and Optimise BLAZE analysing more layouts than foreseen (see D4.1 and D4.4)
6. Design a gas-bearing supported recirculation device adapted for the BLAZE specifications (see D4.3)
7. Prepare the biomass BFB gasifier/combustor (see section 1.2)
8. Build the 25 kWe SOFC LMS (see section 1.2)
Al the results have been disseminated and exploited in conferences, journals, etc.
At present, installed electricity generation capacity by CHP in the EU-28 is about 120 GWe which generates approximately 11% of EU electricity demand. Germany, Italy, Poland and the Netherlands have the largest capacity installed. Renewables, mainly biomass and in particular low-cost biomass or biomass waste, are becoming increasingly important having attained 20% of the market. As an economically viable means to increase further grid penetration of solar and wind, power generation from biomass is expected to continue to increase significantly, on the small, medium and large scales. The total EU28 energy demand for Heating and Cooling (H/C) equals 51% of the total final energy demand with ambitious policy objectives which include, for instance, that all new buildings must be Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) from 31st December 2020.
The difficulty in converting different biomass feedstocks together with the high CAPEX/OPEX and high emission of the actual biomass CHP systems limit the development of the large biomass CHP potential. The electrical efficiencies of small-to-medium biomass combustion Rankine CHP cycles are rather low (typically 8 to 14% related to the biomass input power). An alternative option to biomass combustion CHP technologies are biomass gasification CHP technologies that exhibit higher electric efficiencies (~ 25%) but limited overall efficiencies (65-75%) due to intermediate gas cooling steps. Other disadvantages are the high fuel quality requirements, high efforts for gas cleaning as well as rather complex process schemes. To overcome these problems and to develop a highly efficient and fuel-flexible small-to-medium scale biomass CHP technology, a new approach has been chosen within this project. To really exploit the biomass energy potential, reliable, high efficiency and low environmental impacts small and medium scale power plants must be developed, for better compatibility with the low energy density and perishability of this fuel. BLAZE is made by technologies that can be easy scalable (fluidised bed and fuel cells on the contrary of fixed bed and engines/turbines), thus BLAZE can cover all the small-to-medium scale size. The power/heat ratio is similar to the large scale Combine Cycle CHP; but BLAZE can operate, with higher electrical efficiency, in power modulation, and , with the slip side of the syngas directly to the burner, can change the power/heat ratio. BLAZE will bring ground breaking technology for low cost and z ero emission renewable energy production via novel concepts and approaches, realising a new product and allowing new services and businesses (zero emission waste use, stability for the grid, etc.) with respect to the products and services already available on the market now. The integration of SOFC and BFB hot gas conditioning gasification will reduce the risks for the next development stages of these technologies including e.g. biofuels and power to fuel. BLAZE’s ambition is to maintain Europe as leader in bioenergy technologies allowing its industry to grow and be competitive and to allow biomass CHP to play a key role in reaching the 2030 Energy and Climate targets.