Inspenet, October 2, 2023.
Scientists from the Institute of Carbochemistry (ICB) of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) are exploring an innovative process for the production of sustainable fuels and products. This process involves the combination of concentrated solar energy (CSP) or renewable sources such as solar or wind, together with biomass obtained from waste.
The research is carried out as part of the PYSOLO project within the Horizon Europe program, which has funding of 5 million euros. This project involves nine collaborators from four European countries and aims to find solutions for decarbonization in the industrial and transport sector, as well as the elimination of fossil raw materials in the chemical industry.
The objective is to provide the energy necessary to carry out a very relevant thermochemical process known as the pyrolysis of biomass from forest residues . Pyrolysis involves the chemical decomposition of organic matter at moderate temperatures, typically between 400 and 600 degrees Celsius, in the absence of oxygen, allowing the conversion of waste into high-value products, such as biofuels or sustainable fertilizers, as reported by the University of Zaragoza in a press release.
For his part, Tomás García, who is the director of the ICB and one of those responsible for the project, points out that electrification alone is not adequate to meet the objectives stipulated in the Paris Agreements, thus indicating that “the future passes because not only energy, but also raw materials for industrial processes, come from renewable sources such as recycling, CO capture2 or biomass”.
Sunlight for fuel production
In the specific context of the receiving devices developed at PYSOLO, concentrated sunlight is used to raise the temperature of solid particles to high levels, generating energy that can be used directly in subsequent processes, in the generation of electricity or in its storage. for future uses.
As an alternative in PYSOLO, with the aim of providing greater versatility to the process, the possibility of using renewable electricity, whether of solar or wind origin, is contemplated to heat the solid particles using induction technology.
In addition, the European Union will establish minimum requirements for the use of sustainable fuels in aircraft starting in 2025, with the goal of reaching a percentage of 70% by 2050.
According to researcher Ramón Murillo, with this technology “it is possible to provide the energy necessary for the pyrolysis process from renewable sources, producing not only raw materials for obtaining biofuels and chemical products, but also a biochar (form of carbon created heating biomass in an oxygen-free atmosphere) that can be used as a renewable fertilizer and carbon sink, giving rise to negative CO2 emissions.”
With regard to forestry waste, it is important to highlight that there are several industrial methods in which, unlike the proposal presented in this project, the energy necessary to carry out the process comes from the burning of the biochar obtained during the process itself. pyrolysis.
The main novelty of the technology of this project lies in the flexibility of the pyrolysis process, which can be carried out using solar concentration technology during the hours of solar exposure, but can also be carried out using renewable electricity when solar radiation is not sufficient.