Bioenergy: Sustainable use of biomass

New concepts for the material and energetic use of biomass

© Fraunhofer UMSICHT

Fraunhofer Innovation Cluster "Bioenergy"

Sustainable supply of raw materials and energy.

Project goals

Transport and storage of fresh biomass and biogenic residues prove to be cost-intensive and not always feasible with current technologies and processes. The Fraunhofer Innovation Cluster Bioenergy has developed technologies that can be used on a mobile and decentralized basis to produce intermediates that are worth storing and transporting. The intermediate products can be processed in the chemical industry, cosmetics industry or in energy technology. None of the technologies and concepts considered in the cluster are in competition with food production.

Project benefits

In order to reduce emissions of climate-damaging gases such as CO2, the use of biomass for material and energy purposes will in future make an important contribution to meeting the global demand. For the production of solid or liquid energy sources, dry biomass has been used primarily to date. The use of wet and/or lignocellulosic biomass is less common, as the high water content results in a low calorific value and makes storage and, above all, transport costly. In addition, inhomogeneity, ash content and poor processability make it difficult to use. The quantities produced worldwide are enormous; the spectrum ranges from grass and green cuttings, harvest residues, processing residues from agricultural and forestry production to biowaste from private households.

The Fraunhofer Innovation Cluster Bioenergy has pooled the expertise of industry and science to develop new concepts for the use of wet biomass. The focus was on the optimisation potential for collection, transport, storage and conversion. On the basis of the results, a novel range of biogenic intermediate products for material and energy recovery will be made available in the future.

Project phase

After the research-oriented development of the technologies up to the product or process sample, the implementation in industrial practice followed. The work concentrated on locally/regionally produced biogenic residues from agricultural and food production as well as stalk-like biomass. With the novel technical processes, these can be converted decentrally into carbon-rich intermediate products for the supply of raw materials and energy.

A large part of the development work took place in the biomass pilot plant of Fraunhofer UMSICHT in Oberhausen. The equipment includes a laboratory and pilot plant for pyrolysis, units for drying and packaging of biomass, test plants for fractionation of pressed juices and a laboratory unit for hydrothermal carbonization (HTC).

Project result

In the field of Hydrothermal Carbonization (HTC) Fraunhofer UMSICHT has developed promising plant concepts. In cooperation with Gronemeyer & Banck GmbH & Co KG, a manufacturer of pressure vessels, two larger test plants were realized. Together with Phytowelt GreenTechnologies GmbH and the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, a concept for a biorefinery site was developed. The researchers also worked on a decentralised plant concept and, in addition to extensive tests on two pilot plants, developed utilisation paths for products. For this purpose, together with the agricultural machinery manufacturer CLAAS KGaA mbH, straw-like biomass was converted by fast pyrolysis into a liquid fraction, a coke and a gas.

Project partners

  • Airtech Stickstoff GmbH
  • Aquattro GmbH
  • CLAAS KGaA mbH
  • EnergieAgentur.NRW GmbH (Netzwerk Kraftstoffe und Antriebe der Zukunft)
  • Entrade GmbH
  • Franz-Josef Kipp GmbH & Co. KG
  • GEA Westfalia Separator Group GmbH
  • GRONEMEYER & BANCK GmbH & Co. KG
  • Kreis Weseler Abfallgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG
  • Loick Biowertstoff GmbH
  • :metabolon/Bergischer Abfallwirtschaftsverband
  • Pfeifer & Langen GmbH & Co. KG
  • Phytowelt GreenTechnologies GmbH
  • PROWICO Proteingewinnungs GmbH
  • Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • STEAG GmbH
  • Thünen-Institut für Holzforschung (TI)
  • Wirtschaftsbetrieb Hagen WBH