Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NextGenRoadFuels (Sustainable Drop-In Transport fuels from Hydrothermal Liquefaction of Low Value Urban Feedstocks)
Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2020-04-30
The overall objective of the NextGenRoadFuels project is to prove the HTL technology pathway as a viable, sustainable and efficient route for production of liquid drop-in fuels for road transportation from urban organic residuals. The outstanding feedstock flexibility of advanced HTL technology and state-of-the-art, low-H2 upgrading techniques will be applied to low value, aggregated urban wastes, in order to obtain cost competitive, high volume, sustainable drop-in quality synthetic gasoline and diesel fuels. From a validated baseline HTL process chain for lignocellulosics, new innovative process steps will be designed and existing steps optimized to address the additional challenges encompassed by such feedstocks, with the objective to demonstrate all main process steps at >TRL5.
Furthermore, to establish whether protein extraction from the waste feedstocks, primarily sewage sludge, is technically feasible as a means to add value to the overall process by producing valuable non-fuel “side products”, as well as by removing nitrogen from the feedstock and thereby alleviating downstream heteroatom removal issues. This has been demonstrated as feasible, although further work needs to be done in identifying recovered proteins and amino acids in order to establish overall process economics of this. Activities on the feedstocks have been supported by extensive characterization campaigns aimed at developing a European database on feedstock variability as well as establishing analysis protocols and carrying out an internal “round robin” test for reproducibility of data at the different partner labs.
At the downstream side, initial work has been carried out to establish hydrotreating conditions, based on model compounds as well as the actual biocrude from the first delivery from the HTL campaign. As a novel process design, early stage electro-catalysis is being investigated as an internal source of hydrogen at low external energy input. Combining the entire process, flow sheets have been developed, comprising all stages and unit operations from protein extraction, feedstock preparation, through HTL, product separation and biocrude conditioning, to upgrading and fractionationation into relevant fuel fractions. These are now ready to receive high quality experimental data, which is the focus of the next stage of the project, in order to develop realistic implementation scenarios to establish financial and environmental benefits of the process.
Aiding this part, a road-to-market study has been carried out, identifying potential countries for initial deployment as well as critical implementation aspects such as legislation and competing technologies.