Current research on thermochemical conversion of biomass at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory
The thermochemical research platform at the National Bioenergy Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is primarily focused on conversion of biomass to transportation fuels using non-biological techniques. Research is conducted in three general areas relating to fuels synthesis via thermochemical conversion by gasification:(1)Biomass gasification fundamentals; chemistry and mechanisms of tar formation(2)Catalytic tar reforming and syngas cleaning(3)Syngas conversion to mixed alcoholsIn addition, the platform supports activities in both technoeconomic analysis (TEA) and life cycle assessment (LCA) of thermochemical conversion processes. Results from the TEA and LCA are used to inform and guide laboratory research for alternative biomass-to-fuels strategies. Detailed process models are developed using the best available material and energy balance information and unit operations models created at NREL and elsewhere. These models are used to identify cost drivers which then form the basis for research programs aimed at reducing costs and improving process efficiency while maintaining sustainability and an overall net reduction in greenhouse gases.
Graphical abstractFigure optionsDownload full-size imageDownload as PowerPoint slideHighlights► Novel tar and light hydrocarbon reforming catalyst developed. ► Catalyst is robust and can be used in a recirculating/regenerating reactor configuration with low attrition rates. ► Catalyst has demonstrated excellent tar (>99%) and methane (>90%) conversion efficiency on both model and biomass-derived syngas streams. ► Tar mitigation or elimination during biomass gasification may be used to reduce tar loads on the reformer catalyst impacting overall process economics.
Journal: Applied Catalysis B: Environmental - Volumes 115–116, 5 April 2012, Pages 320–329