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Making jet fuel from wood

By Tetsuo Satoh |

Last month, construction began on a demonstration facility that integrates high-performance entrained-flow gasification technology and Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) synthesis for making jet fuel from woody biomass. The demonstration project is being carried out by a Japanese consortium, led by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Ltd. (MHPS; Yokohama City, Japan; www.mhps.com), with partners CEPCO, Toyo Engineering Corp. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and support from the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO; Kawasaki City; www.nedo.go.jp). The demonstration facility is located at CEPCO’s Shin-Nagoya power station in Nagoya, Japan. The demonstration facility will have the capacity to process 0.7 ton/d of woody biomass, producing about 20 L/d of “neat” biojet fuel. The consortium plans to start trial operation of the facility this year, and to verify operations — including combustion and jet-engine testing at JAXA — in 2020–2021.

On the fuel-production process, MHPS is responsible for the entrained-bed gasification technology, Toyo for micro-channel F-T synthesis technology and the reforming of the synthesized oil, CEPCO for equipment operation and fuel procurement, and JAXA for evaluation of combustion characteristics. MHPS has been developing coal-gasification technology since the 1980s, and has established high-performance gasification furnace technology. The gasification technology realizes uniform and highly efficient gasification due to the following features; oxygen is blown at high velocity into the bottom of the special cylindrical gasifier, and among solid biomass, larger particles are circulated in suspension to be pyrolytically gasified in the lower part of gasifier where upward gas-flow velocity is high, and smaller particles are gasified in the upper part of gasifier where gas-flow velocity is low. The F-T synthesis system adopted for this project is compact, highly efficient and suitable for small- to medium-scale plants, and the reactor is easily scaled up for commercial-scale systems, says Toyo.

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