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Production of Advanced Fuels Through Integration of Biological, Thermo-Chemical and Power to Gas Technologies in a Circular Cascading Bio-Based System


In the transition to a climate neutral future, the transportation sector needs to be sustainably decarbonized. Producing advanced fuels (such as biomethane) and bio-based valorised products (such as pyrochar) may offer a solution to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with energy and agricultural circular economy systems. Biological and thermochemical bioenergy technologies, together with power to gas (P2G) systems can generate green renewable gas, which is essential to reduce the GHG footprint of industry. However, each technology faces challenges with respect to sustainability and conversion efficiency. Here this study identifies an optimal pathway, leading to a sustainable bioenergy system where the carbon released in the fuel is offset by the GHG savings of the circular bio-based system. It provides a state-of-the-art review of individual technologies and proposes a bespoke circular cascading bio-based system with anaerobic digestion as the key platform, integrating electro-fuels via P2G systems and value-added pyrochar via pyrolysis of solid digestate. The mass and energy analysis suggests that a reduction of 11% in digestate mass flow with the production of pyrochar, bio-oil and syngas and an increase of 70% in biomethane production with the utilization of curtailed or constrained electricity can be achieved in the proposed bio-based system, enabling a 70% increase in net energy output as compared with a conventional biomethane system. However, the carbon footprint of the electricity from which the hydrogen is sourced is shown to be a critical parameter in assessing the GHG balance of the bespoke system.

Funding source: Ireland Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Research Programme 2014–2020 (No. 2018-RE-MS-13); European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant (No. 797259), and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) through the MaREI Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine under grant No. 12/RC/2302_P2 and 16/SP/3829.
Countries: India ; Ireland

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