FT-Biofuels in Austria
Fischer-Tropsch Biofuels are biofuels of the second generation. To make them marketable a lot of research and development activities are still necessary. Nevertheless, fundamental data for this process are already available to allow an assessment of the expected production costs and also the impact on the environment.
Content and goals of the project
As biofuels become more and more important in today's fuel supply, this project aims at profoundly evaluating large scale biofuel production facilities in Austria (approximately 200,000 t of BioFiT-fuels/year) from a technological, ecological and economic perspective. The work will cover the whole conversion chain, starting from a detailed analysis of biomass supply in Austria, including logistics and biomass qualities. Biomass gasification offers great potential to provide high quality "second generation" biofuels and is thus chosen to be the key conversion route, linking biomass supply and fuel synthesis. Based on the state of science and technology in Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, a technology assessment of prospective process options is performed, both in terms of energy efficiency and ecology. Finally, a detailed analysis of the economic viability of the fuel production will bring about production costs, thus allowing an estimation of the expected profitability of biofuel plants.
In this study, the following aspects are emphasized:
- Biomass resource supply, including logistics
- Potentials and process options of Fischer-Tropsch fuel synthesis technologies
- Economic analysis, especially fuel production costs
- Environmental aspects, including life-cycle analysis, reduction potentials of greenhouse gases
In the field of biomass supply, research will focus on literature research and expert interviews. The amount and type of solid fuels that can be produced in Austria within the near future will thus be examined, yielding the potential of both forestry biomass and energy plants. Crucial factors in this respect are heating value, chemical composition, yield per acre, production cycles, as well as the geographic location.
The techno-economic part of the project aims at designing and evaluating prospective process options in full detail. Each conversion step i.e.
- Biomass gasification
- Synthesis gas cleaning and conditioning
- Fischer-Tropsch synthesis
- Crude product upgrading,
will first be analyzed individually and eventually be integrated into the whole process. Based upon simulation derived mass- and energy balances, efficiencies can be calculated and technical equipment can be specified. From this, cost accounting will lead to production costs of the products.
Concerning the impact on the environment, important factors such as greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, CH4, N2O), accumulated primary energy consumption (fossil, renewable) as well as accumulated material requirements of the resulting biofuels will be compared to fossil fuels.
Expected results of the project
The project outcome will provide an extensive technology assessment of biomass-based Fischer-Tropsch biofuel synthesis in the large scale in Austria. Thus, a profound decision basis both for industry and funding agencies on the future potential of this technology is obtained.
Univ. Prof. Dr. Hermann Hofbauer
Technische Universität Wien
Institut für Verfahrenstechnik, Umwelttechnik und Technische Biowissenschaften
Project or cooperation partner
- Austrian Bioenergy Centre GmbH
- Joanneum Research
- Österreichische Bundesforste AG
- OMV AG