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Biomass gasification for hydrogen production involves the thermochemical conversion of biomass (such as crop and forest residues) with a controlled amount of steam and oxygen, to syngas at temperatures over ~700°C. This is followed by the water-gas shift reaction to increase the yield and concentration of hydrogen.


Technology

What is it?

Biomass gasification for hydrogen production involves the thermochemical conversion of biomass (such as crop and forest residues) with a controlled amount of steam and oxygen, to syngas at temperatures over ~700°C. This is followed by the water-gas shift reaction to increase the yield and concentration of hydrogen.

Why is it important?

Biomass is plentiful, regenerative and removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making this process carbon neutral. Coupling the process with CCUS has the potential to make it carbon negative. Simultaneous treatment of municipal waste is also possible.

Characteristics

  • Inputs: Biomass, air, oxygen and/or steam
  • By-products: Carbon dioxide
  • Operating temperature: 500 to 1400˚C
  • Energy efficiency: ~52%

Benefits

  • Established industrial process
  • Utilises agricultural/forest waste products

Limitations

  • Slag and tar build up requires additional machinery to be integrated into conventional gasification processes
  • Releases carbon dioxide (CCS or further handling could be employed to make the process carbon negative) – otherwise carbon neutral
  • Note: The TRL of this technology varies based on feedstock: TRL 9 for woody biomass, and TRL 6-7 for municipal solid waste

RD&D priorities

  • Address challenges in understanding characteristics of different biomass feedstocks and in process handling (due to high temperatures required)
  • Optimise systems for different biomass feedstocks
  • Improve gas purification
  • Intensify process (reduce number of steps)
  • Integrate renewable energy sources. For example, concentrated solar power can act as a thermal energy source for the process

Known active organisations

  • The Australia National University
  • CSIRO
  • Curtin University
  • Monash University
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • The University of Adelaide
  • The University of Newcastle
  • The University of Queensland

Other opportunities like this

  • Biogas is mixed with steam in the presence of a catalyst at high temperatures (~750°C) and moderate pressure to produce syngas.

  • Biogas is reacted with steam and/or CO2 in a non-thermal plasma reactor integrating with a suitable catalyst to produce hydrogen rich syngas and/or liquid short chain oxygenates (e.g. MeOH).

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