Dear reader,
GAFT is in its second year and we have been very busy working with the deliverables and on fulfilling the expectations of our industry and research partners. GAFT can be considered as somehow special in comparison to other KPN projects that are managed by the SINTEF bioenergy group. One major difference is that it heavily relies on an experimental setup that is quite large in comparison to what we normally work with. This has made working on fuel preparation quite challenging, especially in terms of the large quantities and the pre-treatment of the feedstocks that is required prior to the gasification experiments. We have now finished all fuel preparation for the fuels that will be used in the gasification experiments for the entire duration of the project. Our fuel arsenal consists of approximately half a ton batches of woodchips, bark and tops and branches (GROT) in pelletized form. In addition half of each fraction has been torrefied making a total of 6 different fuels ready to be fed into our entrained flow gasifier. However, these fractions will need additional grinding and sieving prior to gasification. In addition, the rest fraction from an anaerobic digestion process will be used as a fuel additive. The gasifier is in its infant stage and we are hoping to avoid many of the early sicknesses that typically follow with such a complex setup. We are hoping to have a functional system by the end of this year that includes the results for our main deliverable in SP2 this year.

Roger Khalil, GAFT project manager


Progress update on feedstock pretreatment

The sub-project SP1 has so far witnessed high level of activity both last year and the current year. As SP1 deals with feedstock pre-treatment and acts as the foundation that SP2 will be launching from, it has been necessary to give it a major role in the beginning. We have so far been working hard on assessing the numerous feedstock properties and pre-treatment strategies that makes gasification in an entrained flow reactor possible. Many of the results have already been disseminated to GAFT partners; this includes torrefaction effect on grindability and particle size distribution, and a complete characterization of the feedstock and ash composition. The above mentioned work has been presented at the 21st International Symposium on Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis in Nancy, France. Also 2 conference papers have been prepared and will be submitted to the 8th International Conference of Applied Energy in Beijing, China, 8-11 October 2016. The titles are:

• Impact of torrefaction on properties of woody biomasses

• Effect of Temperature and Duration of Torrefaction on the Thermal Behavior of Stem Wood, Bark, and Stump of Spruce

We have also developed a tool that uses thermodynamic equilibrium calculations to predict the ash melting behavior and syngas composition as a function of reactor temperatures. This tool will help us optimize fuel mixtures that will be used in the gasification experiments. This year we will also be looking into the ash melting behavior of ash mixtures in an ash-melting microscope. The results will be validated against the prediction tool mentioned above. In the accompanied figures, you see the effect of torrefaction severity on different biomass types, a scanning electron microscopy image of torrefied stem wood and typical results from the thermodynamic calculations.

Progress update on gasification

In June we reached a milestone in the project. The fuel feeding system was tested successfully for the first time. We are now in the process of doing feeding tests with four different powdered fuels; torrefied pine, bark, GROT (tops and branches) and conventional pine. We are testing these fuels in a so called loss-in-weight feeding system. The whole feeding system is placed on a scale which makes it possible to have a feedback from the scale to the motor which turns the feeding augers. Hence, with this system we can set a mass flow rate, eliminating calibration between fuels, which is necessary with systems that only rely on the frequency of the feeding augers to determine the mass flow rate. After these tests are completed, we will continue with all other subsystems coupled to the entrained flow gasification system. Our ambition is to have all subsystems tested during the fall of 2016 and the complete system tested in the end of 2016. In the figure, you see torrefied, pulverized biomass being filled into the fuel feeding system prior to the tests. Notice that the fuel feeding system is mounted inside a pressure vessel which later will be closed for pressurized gasification campaigns.


Progress update on FT

In GAFT, highly active Fischer-Tropsch catalysts will be utilized in a medium to high temperature range for synthesis of biocrudes from the gasifier syngas. For effective production of biocrudes, microchannel reactor technology will be applied. Microchannel reactors holds great promises for process intensification for FT synthesis due to the improved mass and heat transfer demonstrated with this technology. Microchannel FT reactors consist of reactor blocks containing thousands of thin process channels filled with FT catalyst, which are interleaved with water-filled coolant channels. As a result, they are able to dissipate the heat produced by the highly exothermic FT reaction much more quickly than conventional systems. This allows for more active FT catalysts or operating at more severe conditions. So far, screening of numerous catalysts has been carried out. Both iron and cobalt based catalysts have been tested in laboratory fixed-bed reactors at relevant FT conditions. This includes reactor temperatures from 240 to 290 °C, H2:CO ratios from 1 to 2 and the effect of CO2 in the syngas feed. Many more will be tested throughout the year. Our ambition is then to have full analyses of liquid phase compositions. The most promising catalyst will be selected for further studies, probably also including tests in microchannel reactors, in 2017.


Other news

PhD candidate is in place

Ning Guo has recently been enrolled as PhD student at NTNU within the GAFT project. Mr Guo holds a B.Eng. in Thermal and Power Engineering from School of Energy and Power Engineering, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China, and a M.Sc. in Sustainable Energy Systems from Department of Energy and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. Ning Guo has an excellent starting point for being successful in his PhD studies. He has a strong engineering background and has during his Master thesis work studied related processes including CFD of multi-phase flows for biomass combustion. His thesis work was on CFD-simulations of urea-SNCR for NOx-reduction in flue gases from biomass combustion. He has as valuable experience with programming both through his education and his thesis work, which will be very valuable for WP2.2 EF Gasification Modelling in which his focus lies. He will be supervised by Prof. Terese Løvås and Dr. Tian Li at NTNU.

Sommer job student contributing on testing the feeding system of the entrained flow reactor

SINTEF Energy Research value the knowledge of students. Each summer SINTEF make sure to hire a substantial number of students to contribute in ongoing projects. Through such programs, we can ensure recruiting exceptional candidates for future researcher jobs at SINTEF. GAFT this year has hired Håkon Nordvoll, a 27 years old student from Levanger. He is currently studying for a bachelor’s degree in fire engineering at the University College in Stord, Haugesund.  Håkon will be conducting experimental support and handling tasks related to testing the entrained flow reactor and in particular the feeding system.

GAFT hosted IEA task 33 in Trondheim

IEA Task 33 and GAFT jointly arranged a workshop with the topic "Aviation Biofuels through Biomass Gasification" in Trondheim. Different IEA members gave presentations relevant to the topic. In addition, several activities within GAFT were disseminated during this day. The workshop attendance was pleasingly high as most GAFT partners and IEA task members were present in addition to other external interested parties.


Calender of events

2nd International Congress and Expo on Biofuels & Bioenergy

August 29-31, 2016 Sao Paulo, Brazil

9th Biofuels International Conference & Expo 

September 20-22, 2016 Ghent, Belgium

2016 Gasification and Syngas Technologies Conference

October 16-19, 2016 Vancouver, Canada

18th International Conference on Biomass, Bioenergy, Biofuels and Bioproducts         

December 1-2, 2016 Penang, Malaysia



• GAFT project manager: Roger Khalil

• Feedstock pretreatment: Liang Wang

• Gasification: Per Carlsson

• Fischer-Tropsch synthesis: Rune Myrstad

• Value-chain analysis: Gonzalo del Alamo