SYNFERON Provides an Alternative to Wind Energy

Tuesday 13 Jan 15
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Georgios Kontogeorgis
Professor
DTU Chemical Engineering
+4545 25 28 59
Newly established research project, SYNFERON, aims to make biofuel conversion more efficient by developing a new technological platform.

Green and sustainable energy is highly prioritized in society these days and in Denmark new numbers just showed that wind energy made up more than 39% of the total energy consumption last year. Based on this, it finally looks like the dream of a society based upon sustainable energy will soon be reached. SYNFERON will bring us even closer to fulfilling the vision by improving the current process where gaseous biofuel is converted to fluent and more versatile fuel.

When 2nd generation bio mass (like wood, plant mass etc.) is heated up to extremely high temperatures it is converted to syngas, a gas that has a very high efficiency. The issue with syngas is that it cannot be stored which means it has to be used right away. Furthermore, it is not compatible with the gas grid nor can it be used for the energy consuming transportation sector. Therefore, it needs to be converted to fluid biofuel through an expensive and inefficient process, that decreases the energy efficiency of the final product substantially. It is this process SYNFERON will direct its research focus towards. The ambition is to develop a new technological platform that will improve every step from producing the syngas to the conversion to fluent and gaseous biofuels. The ultimate goal is the creation of a complete design that includes highly efficient bio mass gasification, cheap fermentation processes, advanced product separation, cleaning technologies with a low energy consumption, along with process analysis and optimization.

The need for alternative sustainable energy sources comes from two major disadvantages in wind energy. Wind mills cannot produce energy on calmer days and the energy produced cannot be stored for later use – exactly like syngas. Therefore, wind energy is not the most stable source of energy. SYNFERON’s ambition to develop a more efficient way to convert syngas to fluid biofuel will provide an economically and environmentally sustainable alternative to wind energy that can work as a supplement to wind energy production. Project manager Niels B.K. Rasmussen from Danish Gas Technical Center explains;  

“As wind energy makes up for an increasingly higher amount of the Danish energy system towards 2050 there will be a need for storage of large quantities of energy. Our technology will be a supplement to the wind energy and make indirect storage possible,” says the project manager.

SYNFERON is the collaboration between DTU, Aalborg University, Dansk Gasteknisk Center the two Danish companies Aquaporin A/S and Biosystems APS, a German company called Agnion Energy GmbH and Iowa State University. AT-CERE, led by Georgios Kontogeorgis, is one of the contributors from DTU, the other one being CAPEC-PROCESS. The project is consequently a solid, interdisciplinary project with a lot of expertise from both the academic and the industrial world. The SYNFERON project is mainly funded by the Innovation Foundation, who has invested 17 million DKK of the 21 million DKK budget.