Biofuel production via gasification

Second generation biofuels may be produced by different processes, using a variety of feedstocks. Consequently, a gasification reactor used for biofuel production must handle biomass mixtures with various physical properties.

The need for advanced biofuels is emphasised at both national and international level. Biofuel can be produced from sustainable sources as wood and waste from forestry, agriculture, industry and household. It is important to develop an energy effective process that addresses the challenges associated with the conversion of biomass into biofuel.

Gasification is the first step in the production of biofuels from biomass. In this step, the biomass is heated and converted into a synthesis gas consisting of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2). The quality of the synthesis gas very much depends on the type of biomass and the operating temperature. The gasifier is typically running at 800-900 °C; a high temperature gives a high concentration of CO and H2 in the product gas, but a high temperature can also result in problems with ash melting in the reactor.

Gasifier. Photo

Gasification rig. Photo.

In the biomass to biofuel process, it is crucial that the quality of the synthesis gas from the gasification meets the requirements for the downstream processing.

Factors improving the biomass gasification process are investigated and the following approaches are applied:

  • Testing different types of biomass and mixtures of these
  • A study of the influence of temperature, fluidizing agent, flow rates and catalysts on produced gas composition
  • Quantitative and qualitative analysis of tar
  • A study of the influence of temperature on ash melting, and consequences of ash melting
  • Simulation of the biomass to biofuel process

The Bio4Fuels FME

Bio4Fuels is a Centre for Environment Friendly Energy Research (FME), an initiative between over 40 Stakeholders and the research partners: NTNU, PFI, NIBIO, USN, IFE, with NMBU as host institute and SINTEF as Centre leader.

The main objective for Bio4Fuels is to develop innovative technology and support industries to realize economic and sustainable conversion of biomass to transportation fuels along with added value chemicals, particularly from lignocellulosic biomass and organic residues.

USN contributes in the Bio4Fuels FME by studying and preparing for piloting and scaling of conversion processes for biomass to biofuel. Particularly biomass from lignocellulosic and organic residues are used. Technologies studied in other work packages in Bio4Fuels and in other projects are used to make the framework for the simulation models. The simulation tools are computational fluid dynamics software (Ansys/Fluent and Barracuda) and process simulation software (Aspen Hysys or Aspen Plus). This gives a framework for process design analysis and optimization. Development of process models is needed to select appropriate process combinations from a wide range of options. The models can be used in the development of business cases for industrial implementation and will generate insight into the framework needed for successful commercialization and piloting of the most promising technologies for production of biofuels from biomass.

EnergiX project: FLASH

“Predicting the FLow behavior of ASH mixtures for production of transport biofuels in the circular economy” (FLASH) is and EnergiX project.

The main objective of the FLASH project is to accelerate the implementation of biomass to biofuels via gasification by mitigating the majority of challenges related to ash. The main objective will be achieved through the following objectives:

  1. Increase the fundamental understanding of ash properties and behaviour in thermal systems and particularly thermal systems under reducing conditions
  2. Develop methods and models to predict ash behaviour
  3. Define/test strategies to mitigate ash-related challenges

The project partners are USN, SINTEF Energy Research, BOKU and Aalto University. The project is funded by 9.9 MNOK from the Norwegian Research Council.


Eikeland, Marianne Sørflaten; Thapa, Rajan Kumar, (2017), Stepwise Analysis Of Gasification Reactions With Aspen Plus and CPFD. International Journal of Energy Production and Management 2017; Volum 2.(1) s. 70-80

Haugen, Hildegunn Hegna; Furuvik, Nora Cecilie Ivarsdatter; Moldestad, Britt Margrethe Emilie, (2016), Characterization of biomass wood. Wit Transactions on Ecology and The Environment 2016; Volum 205. s. 257-269

Adhikari, Umesh; Eikeland, Marianne Sørflaten; Halvorsen, Britt Margrethe (2015), Gasification of Biomass for Production of Syngas for Biofuel. Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 2015 s. 255-260

Haugen, Hildegunn Hegna; Halvorsen, Britt Margrethe; Eikeland, Marianne Sørflaten, (2015), Simulation of Gasification of Livestock Manure with Aspen Plus. Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 2015 (119) s. 271-277

Eikeland, Marianne Sørflaten; Thapa, Rajan Kumar; Halvorsen, Britt Margrethe, (2015), Aspen Plus Simulation of Biomass Gasification with known Reaction Kinetic. Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 2015 (119) s. 149-155