Energy from Residues and Waste

There is a new path for the treatment of biomass and waste residues.

The German-based Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology UMSICHT has developed the innovative Thermo-Catalytic Reforming TCR. This new technology is able to convert biomass into synthesis gas, biooil, biochar and water.

To promote the technique, Fraunhofer UMSICHT founded the spin-off company “Susteen Technologies GmbH”, based in Sulzbach-Rosenberg, which has been granted an exclusive worldwide license to the TCR technology for the production of sustainable fuels. Since then, there were two spin-off companies (Susteen Technologies UK and Susteen Technologies Canada Ltd.) established in 2016.

According to the information on the homepage of Susteen Technologies, the TCR technology is designed to process a wide range of waste or residual biomass including:
■ fermentation residues incl. digestate from anaerobic digestion plants and lignin cake from bioethanol fermentation plants,
■ agricultural/forestry residues (eg. animal manure, straws and husks, waste wood and road side clippings),
■ industrial biomass residues (eg. brewer’s spent grain, oil mill residue and paper sludges),
■ municipal organic wastes such as sewage sludge from water treatment plants or composting materials.

Through a staged process, biomass is converted into high quality synthesis gas, biooil, biochar and water. The stages:
■ Thermal Drying: Wet biomass is dried to 70 to 90 percent dry matter content through a combination of standard mechanical and thermal drying technology. The TCR technology itself can supply sufficient heat for thermal drying of biomass with 60 to 70 percent water content.
■ Thermal Decomposition: In a first TCR reactor stage biomass is carbonized to biochar at intermediate temperatures (400 to 500°C) and volatile organic compounds are extracted.
■ Catalytic Reforming: In the second TCR reactor stage the biochar is heated up to 600 to 750 °C and brought in contact with the volatile compounds again. Through catalytic functions the organic compounds are cracked to quality fuel gases and oils. The steam reforming of water and carbon increases the yields of a hydrogen rich synthesis gas.
■ Product Treatment: Liquid compounds are condensed and the product synthesis gas is cleaned for particles and aerosols in a product treatment stage.

As reported, the TCR technology produces its own process energy through biochar combustion and on-site combined heat and power generation. According to Fraunhofer UMSICHT, Susteen Technologies is actively developing biomass applications based on TCR technology and provides the design and delivery of TCR reactor plants. First customer projects have already been won.

More information:

Photo: Fraunhofer UMSICHT / Kurt Fuchs

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