Research and technology Biomass

ECN’s research and technology in the field of biomass is focused on two areas: bioenergy and biorefinery. These areas have been given high priority because the future of sustainable clean energy will be largely determined by energy from organic materials.


ECN specialises in the thermochemical conversion of biomass and is concerned with the total process: from pretreatment to the combustion and gasification of organic material for energy production. 

ECN’s research into the thermochemical conversion of biomass is focused on two technologies: gasification and torrefaction. Their most important characteristics and advantages are outlined below:

1. Gasification

  • Unique, patented MILENA biomass gasification technology
  • Complete conversion and 80% cold gas efficiency, achieving calorific values in the range 12-15 MJ//Nm3
  • Converts biomass to natural gas equivalent that can be used in boilers, engines, turbines and fuel cells
  • Coproduction of green gas, transport fuels (CNG, LNG) and chemical feedstocks
  • Soon to be scaled up from laboratory scale to large-scale pilot plant

2. Torrefaction

  • Produces compact biomass pellets for co-firing in coal-fired power plants and small-scale CHP plants
  • Biomass pellets have high energy density and are easy to transport, process and store
  • Currently being tested and proved at industrial scale

Want more info? Download the brochure on bioenergy or read more about ECN’s Biomass research programme.


In our biorefinery research, we collaborate with businesses to develop new technologies for converting various sorts of biomass into fuels, chemical feedstocks and other products as an important part of the transition to a biobased economy.

We are currently working on the fractionation of second-generation biomass (lignocellulosic biomass) using organosolv technology, with a specific focus on the hydrolysability of cellulose and hemicellulose into sugars and lignin valorisation as a high-quality green alternative to chemicals and materials.

ECN is also focusing on third-generation aquatic biomass (seaweed) as a raw material for energy, chemical feedstocks and materials, using fractionation to isolate various sugars that can then be processed further to produce a range of end products.

Tip: Are you interested in the marketable applications for our pioneering research and innovative technologies and how we work together with other companies and exchange knowledge? Then pay a visit to our page on technology transfer.

Unique approach

ECN’s focus on chemical refinery makes our approach to biomass research unique. We explore each individual phase in the refining process without ever losing sight of the total process.

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Are you interested in how ECN can help you, or would you like more information on our research or technology? Then please contact us.