Applications of the synthesis gas from biomass gasification - polygeneration

Polygeneration based on biomass gasification offers a great variety of applications of the synthesis gas. A fundametnal study will be carried out to assess technical as well as economical and ecological possible routes to produce synthetic products.

Short Description




In many regions various types and qualities of biogeneous raw and waste materials are available in substantial amounts. More often than not, these materials are rich in energy and can thus be used for energy supply, or, they can be utilized because of their high carbon content which is fundamental for applications in the petrochemical industry. However, appropriate technologies are yet to be developed.

To this end, biomass gasification represents one key element, as it is possible to convert solid biomass into a synthesis gas, which can subsequently be converted to valuable synthesis products, such as transportation fuels or other chemicals, following different reaction paths.

In this project, the aim was placed on the manufacturing of synthesis products that are obtained from a catalytic conversion of the producer gas of biomass steam gasification. Looking at the conversion chain from biomass, two main product stages can be identified: so-called "base products" result from a first synthesis step. These include Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbons, SNG, or methanol.

Products obtained from biomass-derived synthesis gas.

In the course of this project, both base products and final products were investigated. For the base chemicals FT-liquids, SNG and methanol a techno-economic assessment of different prospective process concepts was carried out, yielding not only optimized process design and mass and energy balances, but also allowing for an extensive economic analysis. The thus derived energetic efficiencies as well as annual earnings and costs for the analyzed process concepts can be found in the final report (only in German).

Annual costs and earnings of the evaluated process concepts for the production of BioSNG, Fischer-Tropsch liquids and methanol from biomass [Fürnsinn 2007].

Note that in a "polygeneration plant", electricity is co-generated, while in "fuel orientation plants" the fuel yield is the optimization goal, and only district heat is recovered as a by-product.

From the above data it can be concluded that even in a small scale that is typically beneficial for recovered wood or for co-processing in the wood industry, acceptable product costs are achievable.

With respect to fine chemicals that may be derived from various fractions of the Fischer-Tropsch crude or from methanol, a comprehensive compilation of possible process routes and the corresponding chemical engineering details were established. Thus, much data is available for further research and development efforts to expand the use of biomass as a resource in the chemical industry.

Finally, an ecological assessment of the process concepts as well as of the main chemicals involved was carried out, so as to set the basis for a secure operation of future production facilities in this field.

Project Partners


Univ. Prof. Dr. Hermann Hofbauer
Institut Institut für Verfahrenstechnik, Umwelttechnik und Technische Biowissenschaften, Technische Universität Wien


  • Repotec Umweltechnik GmbH (WV-Partner)
  • Fa. Dendro Light Holzwerkstoffe GmbH (Finanz.-Partner)

Contact Address

Univ. Prof. Dr. Hermann Hofbauer
Institut für Verfahrenstechnik, Umwelttechnik und Technische Biowissenschaften, Technische Universität Wien
Getreidemarkt 9/166, A-1060 Wien
Tel.: +43 (1) 58801-15901 / 15970
Fax: +43 (1) 58801-15999