Data analysis and reporting to support the design of commercial biofuel plants in Europe were completed in 2011, successfully concluding the 3+ year project. Testing provided Andritz/Carbona and their client UPM-Kymmene, a global forestry company, with process data for their biomass-to-liquids (BTL) development program. UPM has selected 2 potential building sites, in either Finland or France, for the biorefinery location and has completed environmental impact assessments. An investment decision on this first-of-a-kind installation is anticipated later in 2012.
E.ON joined the project team as a cosponsor, which demonstrated most of the core technology necessary for their biomass to SNG interest, and later announced an agreement with Andritz/Carbona for a project based on the technology.
Andritz/Carbona has continued development of the GTI gasification process for biomass applications and has a commercial project in Skive, Denmark providing 12 MWth of district heat and 6 MW of electric power using wood pellets as the fuel. This combined heat and power project completed the commissioning phase in 2008, and is now in operation. A single fluidized bed gasifier provides fuel gas for three reciprocating engine generating sets (2 MW each), from which the heat is recovered for the community's district heating needs. Gasification enables the facility to produce about 30% more electricity than a conventional steam process. Two gas boilers in the facility can also use produced gases to meet additional district heating demand. The overall process efficiency in this combined heat and power operation is about 90%.
GTI and Andritz/Carbona continue a productive collaboration to improve technical operating features of the gasifier and ancillary equipment, and work on next-generation applications using the GTI laboratories and pilot-scale test facilities for research, development, and demonstration.
GTI initiated the tcbiomass conference series to present the latest research and innovations in the exciting field of bioenergy for the further deployment of clean energy technologies. tcbiomass2009: The International Conference on Thermochemical Conversion Science, was hosted in 2009 in Chicago, and received very positive feedback from over 250 attendees representing 22 countries. GTI organized and coordinated the event with co-sponsorships from other organizations including the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Canada, and IEA Bioenergy.
Based on the tremendous success of the first event, tcbiomass2011 grew substantially in the number of keynotes, presentations, posters, and attendees. The conference drew over 360 attendees from 24 countries and 185 organizations, bringing together representatives from business and government from around the world to meet with experts in the biomass sector and share insights to accelerate progress towards renewable and sustainable energy goals. This premier forum for technology exchange will again take place in Chicago September 3-6, 2013.
To lower energy costs, provide a cleaner alternative fuel source and strengthen the nation's energy security, GTI is advancing coal gasifier technology with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Inc. (PWR) for fuels, chemicals, and power generation applications. PWR installed a pilot-plant scale advanced compact gasifier at GTI’s Advanced Gasification Test Facility (AGTF) in 2009.
Commercial versions of the new gasifier will be about one-tenth the size of competing technologies, making it unique, and it will be able to operate with all ranks of coal. With funding from PWR and its partners, GTI is conducting pilot-scale development testing of the advanced coal gasifier with a variety of feedstocks in the AGTF, including PWR’s ultra-dense phase feeding system, rapid-mixing injector, and advanced syngas cooling technology.
GTI partnered with GreatPoint Energy in the pilot-scale developmental testing of their bluegas® process. GTI provided access to a wide range of facilities, hardware, and expertise that allowed for process testing on an accelerated schedule without significant start-up costs. By tapping the resources of GTI, GreatPoint Energy shaved more than $30 million in costs and several years in development time.
bluegas is a catalytic process that converts coal into clean pipeline-quality natural gas that can be used to generate power as well as for commercial and domestic heating, while capturing and sequestering the carbon dioxide byproduct. Per a Chicago Tribune July 5, 2010 article, for GreatPoint Energy to be successful, the technology — and the energy produced from it — would have to be environmentally friendly and financially viable. "We had to develop the technology from a beaker to a major demonstration plant and prove we could do it economically," said Andrew Perlman, President and Chief Executive Officer of GreatPoint Energy. GreatPoint Energy used GTI's laboratories and staff to prove its concept and validate the process.
GTI carried out more than 1,200 hours of cold and hot testing with GreatPoint through year-end 2007 that verified the technical feasibility of the process and demonstrated significant methane production. The program also identified potential improvements related to fluid bed mixing, heat transfer, and reactor geometry. Positive results from the GTI test program were instrumental in efforts by GreatPoint to raise more than $100 million in investment capital to support continued development.
The Gills Onion Advanced Energy Recovery System project was presented with the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award in fall 2009 and the Green California Leadership Award at the Green California Summit and Exposition in 2010. The system converts 100% of onion waste by digestion into biogas. GTI efforts on cleaning and conditioning the biogas make it suitable for use in an ultra-clean 500 kW fuel cell power plant.
In 2009, Linde and Waste Management had a Grand Opening at a 13,000 gallon per day landfill gas to LNG production facility at the Altamont Landfill, in Livermore, CA. The plant's liquefaction system is based on intellectual property developed by GTI. The Altamont facility is the largest biomethane to LNG facility in the world. Climate Change Business Journal (CCBJ), a leading business research publication for the climate change industry, awarded GTI and partners a "Technology Merit" award in the Transportation category for the Altamont Landfill project. In addition, this project was also recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as one of the Landfill Methane Outreach Program winning Projects of the Year for their innovation in generating renewable energy and reducing GHG emissions.
To compete in the growing biofuels market, the propane industry is researching new processes for propane production from renewable sources. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) hired GTI to conduct a study that evaluates synthetic propane and biopropane production methods and determines the economic viability of biopropane and DME production technologies. The report includes a strategy for the full-scale commercial production of biopropane and synthetic propane; an evaluation of the major risks and uncertainties for the relevant technologies; and an analysis of related government programs. With research results that confirm the potential for biopropane to become an important part of meeting the growing demand for domestic and renewable energy sources, PERC may consider supporting continued development of methods to produce biopropane, synthetic propane, and DME, as well as demonstrations and other activities to promote awareness of these fuels.