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Cortus Energy produces first RNG/SNG at Köping biomass gasification facility

Sweden-based biomass gasification technology developer Cortus Energy AB has announced that it is now completed the company's latest test campaign at its test facility in Köping, Sweden. The results from the campaign show that it is possible to produce vehicle grade renewable natural gas (RNG) by gasifying low-quality biomass with its proprietary WoodRoll technology.

Cortus has converted syngas to RNG at its biomass gasification facility in Köping, Sweden (photo courtesy Cortus Energy).

Renewable natural gas (RNG) is seen as an important component in fulfilling the goal that Sweden’s transportation fleet will be independent of fossil fuels by 2030. Today, RNG or compressed biomethane (bio-CNG) is produced primarily by anaerobic digestion (AD) of food waste, a feedstock that has limited supply.

Forest-based biomass, on the other hand, has a significantly greater potential. Cortus Energy’s patented WoodRoll technology gasifies forest biomass and generates a renewable syngas that can be transformed into RNG or synthetic natural gas (SNG).

In the latest test campaign at Cortus Energy’s testing facility in Köping, the renewable syngas from the Woodroll process has been converted into vehicle gas in a two-stage process. The syngas has been transformed into methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) in a catalytic process and in a subsequent step, the CO2 has been separated and the vehicle gas has been pressurized to refuel one of the company’s own gas-powered cars.

The catalytic process has been developed by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany as part of a European Union (EU) funded project with Cortus Energy as an industrial partner. Cortus Energy owns the market rights of this catalytic process.

The test campaign itself was part of another EU co-funded project Life + “Biogas Expose” – a five-year project that aims to demonstrate the production of vehicle gas through gasification of low-grade local feedstocks in Eastern Sweden.

We have now shown how the energy gas from WoodRoll can be converted into vehicle gas RNG/SNG. This is an important milestone to be able to enter the market for automotive gas and biomethane to the natural gas grid. The catalytic process we have been part in developing is based on mass-produced components, from the automotive industry, to get cost-effectiveness in the capacity range WoodRoll operates in, said Rolf Ljunggren, CEO Cortus Energy.

According to Cortus Energy, its WoodRoll process is based upon industrially proven subsystems that are combined into a unique and patented process. Compared to other thermal gasification technologies WoodRoll has a number of distinct advantages such as:

  • Feedstock flexibility: A wide mix of biomass-based feedstock can be handled and the mix can change over time to optimize (minimize) the cost of fuel. No pretreatment of the feedstock is needed as drying is an integrated part of the process
  • High thermal yield: Heat from high-temperature process stages is recovered at process steps with a lower temperature level resulting in the highest thermal yield. Typically 80 percent of the energy from the feedstock is converted into the syngas. If heat is recovered, for instance for district heating the thermal yield can be raised up to 90 percent.
  • Clean syngas: The impurities are separated from the part that is gasified and the gasification is based on indirect heating and using steam as oxidizing agent, all this results in a clean syngas. Consequently, there is no need to add downstream gas cleaning equipment. Impurities are measured on ppm level and the syngas can be used directly in gas engines/gas turbines.
  • Syngas composition: The syngas has a typical composition of hydrogen (H2) 55-60 percent, carbon monoxide (CO) 25-30 percent, methane (CH4) 1-2 percent and rest is carbon dioxide (CO2). The unique hydrogen-carbon monoxide ratio (2:1) enables a cost-effective hydrogen- and biomethane (SNG) production.

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