Successful long-duration test for green natural gas from biomass gasification

Thursday December 4, 2014 08:23

Green natural gas is the sustainable substitute of fossil natural gas as extracted from the Groningen gas field for example. The advantage of green natural gas is that it is made from biomass, which is thus largely CO2 neutral because the CO2 has already been absorbed from the atmosphere by the biomass. This way green natural gas has a much lower contribution to the warming of our atmosphere compared to fossil natural gas.

Green gas is at present mostly produced by means of digestion. However, to meet the expected future demand and to scale up the production of green natural gas, a different technology will be needed: biomass gasification.

Last month, ECN was the first organisation worldwide to succesfully finish an endurance test for producing green natural gas by means of biomass gasification. In the past years ECN has been working hard on the design and development of a unique and very efficient technology for making green natural gas. In the laboratories in Petten a first milestone has now been reached: over 500 consecutive hours of stable operation at lab scale.  ECN's patented process is now ready for the next step in which the gas will be produced on a larger scale and fed into the existing natural gas grid. This installation will be realised in collaboration with a number of important partners among which Gasunie and Royal Dahlman, and  will produce 300 m3 of green gas per hour using woody biomass. In the coming years ECN will continue to work on the developments in its laboratories to further optimise the process.

Photo made by Jan Buwalda

The process developed by ECN is able to produce green gas from woody and grass biomass feedstocks with a very high efficiency. The process consists of three components: gas production through gasification (technology name: MILENA), gas cleaning (OLGA) and gas upgrading to natural gas with the required quality (ESME). ECN has developed and patented important innovations for all parts of the process. Together these three components are able to convert no less than 70% of the energy contained in the biomass into green gas. This is a unique accomplishment worldwide. Each of the components (MILENA, OLGA, ESME) can also be used separately and combined with components developed by others.

With this Dutch technology a large quantity of fossil natural gas can be replaced by green gas in the near future. This way, the Netherlands will not only be able to preserve its position as gas nation, but also create a significant number of green jobs. Moreover, by making more use of green gas, the Netherlands is able to avoid a large quantity of CO2 emissions and this way contribute to realizing the climate objectives. 

This work has been realised with financial support from the EDGaR programme.

Category: Corporate, Biomass