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Biofuels from WASTE TO ROAD transport

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - WASTE2ROAD (Biofuels from WASTE TO ROAD transport)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2020-03-31

EU's long-term goal is to increase the share of waste recycled, to improve the efficiency of resource utilization and to secure sustainable growth of European economies while minimizing the extraction of additional natural non-renewable resources. Fossil fuels represent the world's primary energy source, but their use is not sustainable due to steadily increasing demand and fast depleting reserves. Additionally, the use of fossil fuels has a negative impact on the environment by increasing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Therefore, there is a
strong worldwide incentive to look for more environmental-friendly renewable alternatives which can mitigate climate change. To address these challenges, WASTE2ROAD aims to develop a new generation of cost-effective biofuels from a selected range of low cost and abundant biogenic residues and waste fractions, aiming to achieve high overall carbon yields > 45 % while reducing GHG emissions > 80 %. The main steps required to develop full value chains from biogenic waste to advanced biofuels are illustrated in Figure 1.

Management of biogenic waste (i.e. waste sorting and pre-treatment) is a strong focus in the project, to allow a subsequent transformation of a diverse range of waste into intermediate bio-liquids, deploying both fast pyrolysis (‘pyrolysis’) and hydrothermal liquefaction (‘HTL’). Production of advanced biofuels will then be enabled through intermediate refining processes (fractionation, stabilisation) combined with existing downstream refinery co-processing technologies, such as co-Fluid Catalytic Cracking (‘co-FCC’) and co-hydrotreating/hydrocracking (‘co-HT’). Products to be used for road transport are aimed at gasoline and diesel with assessment of final end-use compatibility.

The project' main objectives are:

1) To develop a representative and cost-effective waste supply and management system to reduce and optimise the supply costs while diversifying the (biomass) feedstock basis (in EU perspective)
2) To develop new biofuels production technology while increasing understanding and control of the whole value chain (including an economic assessment)
3) To scale up materials and testing procedures to define scenarios for the best exploitation through implementation of process schemes in existing refineries (achieving pilot-scale tests at TRL 5)
4) To develop solutions to answer key societal & environmental challenges connected with implementation of the proposed technology
In the first 18 months, the partners have defined the waste fractions to be tested in the project. These represent different types of waste from three basic categories: contaminated wood, black liquor and food residues. After pre-treatment, the waste samples undergo conversion to bio-oils by one of the conversion technologies (pyrolysis or HTL). The selection of the conversion technology is dependent mainly on the moisture content of the feedstock. Pyrolysis is best suited for the conversion of dry feedstocks (< 5 % moisture), while HTL is ideal for processing high-moisture materials.

Up to now, several different types of waste materials have been tested in lab-scale experiments for both pyrolysis and HTL. Among the waste materials tested are samples of contaminated wood, food waste collected from restaurants, digestate and rejects recovered from biogas production, and roadside grass. Pyrolysis tests with contaminated wood have been conducted at both lab-scale and pilot-scale level, achieving product yields close to 60 %. The lab-scale tests provided invaluable information about the effect of process parameters on bio-oil quality which has been used to find optimum conditions for testing at pilot-scale level. Hot vapour filtration at lab-scale was investigated for the separation of solid contaminants, such as alkali and alkaline earth metals, from bio-oil in order to improve bio-oil stability during storage. Conversion of wood pyrolysis vapours using an ex-situ catalytic system was carried out to investigate the effect of different types of catalysts on the quality of bio-oil. Lab-scale tests further revealed that pyrolysis of roadside grass resulted in a higher product yield (more than 50 %) compared to pyrolysis of digestate or reject. From the feedstocks tested by HTL so far, the preliminary results show that digestate and food waste collected from local restaurants provide the highest product yields while significantly lower product yield was obtained from black liquor.

Initial co-FCC tests, carried out with non-stabilized pyrolysis bio-liquid from clean wood (reference sample) and Vacuum Gas Oil (VGO), led to clogging of the feed inlet pipe due to sugar polymerization. Subsequent co-processing tests with 5 % of stabilized and deoxygenated pyrolysis oil (SDPO) and 95 % VGO were successful, obtaining stable operating conditions and achieving promising results. Experimental design and pilot-scale set-up for the production of SPO by hydrotreating has been finished and a new pilot-scale unit to produce SDPO is underway. To avoid sugar polymerization and clogging issues, pilot-scale co-HT tests are planned to be conducted only with SPO or SDPO.

Mass and energy data from experimental tests are collected as well as the data on the characteristics of the feedstocks, intermediates and final products. This data will serve as an input for process modelling, process design, techno-economic analysis and environmental assessments using green carbon tracking. The aim of the project is to integrate and optimize at least four complete value chains from low-cost biogenic waste fractions to advanced biofuels. The four scenarios will cover all essential elements of processing along the whole value chain including feedstock supply, pre-treatment and logistics, design and potential siting for de-centralized conversion plants (for both HTL and pyrolysis), and subsequent upgrading and co-processing of intermediate bio-liquids in existing European refineries.

Risk assessment together with plan for mitigation actions is done for all process steps along the value chain, considering risks associated with feedstock supply, technical risks associated with conversion and upgrading processes, economic risks related to development of business cases and introduction of biofuels into the market.
The project will bring the conversion and upgrading technologies from today's TRL3-4 up to TRL5, through the validation in a relevant refinery environment. The project will establish correlations between biofuel’s properties, the quality and properties of diverse renewable biogenic waste fractions and the relevant process parameters along the whole value chain, including sustainable hydrogen production. The study of these combinations will allow a unique understanding, correlating the influence of the nature and diversity of feedstock, and conditioning processes on the final products quality. This understanding will provide insight into synergetic effects, to permit a robust and reliable sustainability assessment of the environmental (in terms of GHG performance), economic and social benefits with respect to current technologies. The impact of the project will be tracked through the performance indicators defined along the whole value chain (Figure 2), with the Key Performance Indicators being the minimum fuel selling price, GHG emissions and the percentage of bio-liquid in product.
Main steps required to develop value chains from low-cost biogenic waste to advanced biofuels
Performance indicators shown along the value chain