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Thermochemical Process Integration, Scale-Up, and Piloting

Our mission is to integrate, scale-up, and demonstrate biomass conversion technologies developed at the laboratory scale to an industrially relevant pilot scale.

 

Full Publications List


Flow diagram describing the major steps in three primary thermochemical pathways. The figure starts with a photo of a forest labeled "Biomass". The purple arrows of "Gasification" lead to "Syngas," represented by spheres of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, then to "Gas Cleanup, Solids Removal, Reforming, and Gas Scrubbing," and then on to "Fuel Synthesis" and finally "Fuels," represented by a gasoline dispenser nozzle. A green arrow of "Fast Pyrolysis" and blue arrows for "Catalytic Pyrolysis" lead to "Pyrolysis Oil," represented by a flask with brown liquid, then on to "Upgrading, Hot Gas Filtering, Vapor Phase Upgrading, Hydrotreating, and Distillation," and finally to "Fuels," represented by a gasoline dispenser nozzle

Variety of Pathways

Our pilot-scale systems are capable of testing multiple biomass-to-fuels pathways including gasification, fast pyrolysis, catalytic fast pyrolysis, and vapor phase upgrading. Our systems are flexible, allowing for modifications based on new technologies and research areas. To learn more about our systems, see Thermochemical Users Facility.

Side-by-side images of a recirculating riser reactor system in NRELs Thermochemical Process Development Unit: on the left is a photo of a 3-D model and on the right is a process flow diagram. Both models show scaffolding and tubes in a tower format

Engineering and Scaled Design

Our engineers work with researchers, consultants, and partners to design reactors and other unit operations to overcome scaling effects and provide innovative solutions. Using our pilot-scale facilities, we can install and test the designs under real operating conditions.

Two side-by-side photos of Thermochemical Process Development Unit operators controlling the system and draining pyrolysis oil. The left shows a man in a hardhat working among a series of metal tubes and wires, pouring a dark liquid from a hose into a bucket; the right shows one man in a hardhat on a walkie-talkie and another man next to him, both are in front of several monitor screens in a large computer room.}

Technology Demonstrations

We demonstrate the current state-of-technology at the pilot scale and provide operational data for use in techno-economic analysis. In 2017, we will demonstrate three thermochemical pathways: (1) syngas upgrading to high-octane fuels and fuel additives, (2) fast pyrolysis followed by hydrotreating, and (3) pyrolysis vapor phase upgrading.

Illustration of the key areas that are included in the technology integration, shown by six puzzle pieces that are varying shades of green with varying textures. The pieces are labeled "Technology," "TEA," "Characterization," "Biomass," "Engineering," and "Catalysts."

Technology Integration

We work closely with the lab-scale researchers to integrate their work together and provide real-world testing conditions for their feedstock, catalyst, and other discoveries. Data collected from pilot-scale testing is then provided back to the lab-scale research to inform future developments.


Research Team

Three side-by-side photos of small groups of people: on the left seven men and women stand in front of a wall with bioenergy images; in the middle a group of six men and women stand in front of a Davison Circulating Riser in a facility; and on the right a group of eight men and women in hard hats stand in front a set of tanks, tubes, and pipes in NRELs Thermochemical Process Development Unit

Principal Investigators

Photo of Kristiina Iisa

Kristiina Iisa

Senior Engineer

Email | 303-384-7853

Photo of Whitney Jablonski

Whitney Jablonski

Senior Research Engineer

Email | 303-384-7685

Photo of Kim Magrini

Kim Magrini

Catalysis and Thermochemical Sciences Group Manager, Principal Scientist

Email | 303-384-7706

Photo of Dan Ruddy

Dan Ruddy

Inorganic and Materials Chemist, Senior Scientist

Email | 303-384-6322

Photo of Esther Wilcox

Esther Wilcox

Thermochemical Process Research and Development Supervisor

Email | 303-384-6516

Katie Gaston

Jesse Hensley

Mark Jarvis

Eric Nelson

Jessica Olstad

Yves Parent

Kristin Smith

Matthew Yung

Stuart Black

Chris Golubieski

Ray Hansen

Matt Oliver

Kellene Orton

Scott Palmer

Brady Peterson

Marc Pomeroy

Glenn Powell

Mike Sprague

Tim Dunning

Dan Dupuis

Alex Stanton

Collaborators

BP

Equilibrium Catalysts

Idaho National Laboratory

Johnson Matthey

Nexceris

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Particulate Solid Research Inc.

WR Grace

Zeton