skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Catalytic Hydrothermal Gasification of Wet Biomass Feedstock


Industries and municipalities generate substantial amounts of biomass as high-moisture waste streams, such as animal manure, food processing sludge, stillage from ethanol production, and municipal wastewater sludge.

Publication Date:
Research Org.:
EERE Publication and Product Library
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Bioenergy Technologies Office (EE-3B) (Bioenergy Technologies Office Corporate)
OSTI Identifier:
Country of Publication:
United States
biomass, thermochemical, gasification, catalytic, industrial waste, municipal waste

Citation Formats

None. Catalytic Hydrothermal Gasification of Wet Biomass Feedstock. United States: N. p., 2006. Web.
None. Catalytic Hydrothermal Gasification of Wet Biomass Feedstock. United States.
None. Sat . "Catalytic Hydrothermal Gasification of Wet Biomass Feedstock". United States. doi:.
title = {Catalytic Hydrothermal Gasification of Wet Biomass Feedstock},
author = {None},
abstractNote = {Industries and municipalities generate substantial amounts of biomass as high-moisture waste streams, such as animal manure, food processing sludge, stillage from ethanol production, and municipal wastewater sludge.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Sat Apr 01 00:00:00 EST 2006},
month = {Sat Apr 01 00:00:00 EST 2006}
  • Hydrothermal processing can be used to treat wet biomass by converting the organic contaminants to gases. When the system is operated as a metal catalyzed process at nominally 350°C and 21 MPa (so-called low-temperature gasification), it can produce a methane/carbon dioxide product gas from water slurries of biomass. This process can be utilized for both waste disposal and energy recovery. Catalyst stability in an aqueous processing environment is a major hurdle for use of such a system. Development of useful catalyst formulations has been achieved through bench-scale process development work. Catalyst lifetimes in excess of 5000h have been shown. Protectionmore » of the catalyst from feedstock impurities is a second major issue, which is more prominent in the biomass applications. Systems are under development to address mineral matter and sulfur contaminants.« less
  • A combined hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) and catalytic hydrothermal gasification (CHG) system and process are described that convert various biomass-containing sources into separable bio-oils and aqueous effluents that contain residual organics. Bio-oils may be converted to useful bio-based fuels and other chemical feedstocks. Residual organics in HTL aqueous effluents may be gasified and converted into medium-BTU product gases and directly used for process heating or to provide energy.
  • DOE-EE Bioenergy Technologies Office has set forth several goals to increase the use of bioenergy and bioproducts derived from renewable resources. One of these goals is to facilitate the implementation of the biorefinery. The biorefinery will include the production of liquid fuels, power and, in some cases, products. The integrated biorefinery should stand-alone from an economic perspective with fuels and power driving the economy of scale while the economics/profitability of the facility will be dependent on existing market conditions. UOP LLC proposed to demonstrate a fast pyrolysis based integrated biorefinery. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has expertise in an importantmore » technology area of interest to UOP for use in their pyrolysis-based biorefinery. This CRADA project provides the supporting technology development and demonstration to allow incorporation of this technology into the biorefinery. PNNL developed catalytic hydrothermal gasification (CHG) for use with aqueous streams within the pyrolysis biorefinery. These aqueous streams included the aqueous phase separated from the fast pyrolysis bio-oil and the aqueous byproduct streams formed in the hydroprocessing of the bio-oil to finished products. The purpose of this project was to demonstrate a technically and economically viable technology for converting renewable biomass feedstocks to sustainable and fungible transportation fuels. To demonstrate the technology, UOP constructed and operated a pilot-scale biorefinery that processed one dry ton per day of biomass using fast pyrolysis. Specific objectives of the project were to: The anticipated outcomes of the project were a validated process technology, a range of validated feedstocks, product property and Life Cycle data, and technical and operating data upon which to base the design of a full-scale biorefinery. The anticipated long-term outcomes from successful commercialization of the technology were: (1) the replacement of a significant fraction of petroleum based fuels with advanced biofuels, leading to increased energy security and decreased carbon footprint; and (2) establishment of a new biofuel industry segment, leading to the creation of U.S. engineering, manufacturing, construction, operations and agricultural jobs. PNNL development of CHG progressed at two levels. Initial tests were made in the laboratory in both mini-scale and bench-scale continuous flow reactor systems. Following positive results, the next level of evaluation was in the scaled-up engineering development system, which was operated at PNNL.« less
  • A pressurized catalytic gasification process, operated at 600{degrees}C, 34.5 MPa, efficiently produces a hydrogen rich synthesis gas from high-moisture content biomass. Glucose was selected as a model compound for catalytic biomass gasification. A proprietary heterogeneous catalyst X was extremely effective for the gasification of both the model compound and whole biomass feeds. The effect of temperature, pressure, reactant concentration on the gasification of glucose with catalyst X were investigated. Complete conversion of glucose (22% by weight in water) to gas was obtained at a weight hourly space velocity of 22.2 (g/h)/g in supercritical water at 600{degrees}C, 34.5 MPa. Complete conversionmore » of whole biomass feeds including water hyacinth, depithed bagasse liquid extract, sewage sludge, and paper sludge was also achieved at the same temperature and pressure. The propriety catalyst X is inexpensive and extremely effective.« less
  • Wet biomass (water hyacinth, banana trees, cattails, green algae, kelp, etc.) grows rapidly and abundantly around the world. As a biomass crop, aquatic species are particularly attractive because their cultivation does not compete with land-based agricultural activities designed to produce food for consumption or export. However, wet biomass is not regarded as a promising feed for conventional thermochemical conversion processes because the cost associated with drying it is too high. This research seeks to address this problem by employing water as the gasification medium. Prior work has shown that low concentrations of glucose (a model compound for whole biomass) canmore » be completely gasified in supercritical water at 600{degrees}C and 34.5 Wa after a 30 s reaction time. Higher concentrations of glucose (up to 22% by weight in water) resulted in incomplete conversion under these conditions. The gas contained hydrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, ethane, propane, and traces of other hydrocarbons. The carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons are easily converted to hydrogen by commercial technology available in most refineries. This prior work utilized capillary tube reactors with no catalyst. A larger reactor system was fabricated and the heterogeneous catalytic gasification of glucose and wet biomass slurry of higher concentration was studied to attain higher conversions.« less