This article presents a summary of the main findings from a collaborative research project between Aalto University in Finland and partner universities. A comparative process synthesis, modelling and thermal assessment was conducted for the production of Bio-synthetic natural gas (SNG) and hydrogen from supercritical water refining of a lipid extracted algae feedstock integrated with onsite heat and power generation. The developed reactor models for product gas composition, yield and thermal demand were validated and showed conformity with reported experimental results, and the balance of plant units were designed based on established technologies or state-of-the-art pilot operations. The poly-generative cases illustrated the thermo-chemical constraints and design trade-offs presented by key process parameters such as plant organic throughput, supercritical water refining temperature, nature of desirable coproducts, downstream indirect production and heat recovery scenarios. The evaluated cases favoring hydrogen production at 5 wt. % solid content and 600 degrees C conversion temperature allowed higher gross syngas and CHP production. However, mainly due to the higher utility demands the net syngas production remained lower compared to the cases favoring BioSNG production. The latter case, at 450 degrees C reactor temperature, 18 wt. % solid content and presence of downstream indirect production recorded 66.5%, 66.2% and 57.2% energetic, fuel-equivalent and exergetic efficiencies respectively.
- lipid extracted algae
- supercritical water gasification
- synthetic natural gas (SNG)
- thermodynamic assessment