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Enahanced biomass-to-energy conversion

Keywords: Biomass, Energy, Thermochemical processes, Supply chain analysis, Sustainability assessment

Biomass has the potential to play a significant role in the world energy scenarios due to its abundance and to the neutral contribution to the CO2 balance when it is used as fuel.

Biomass energy content can be exploited through the direct combustion of the biomass or through the preliminary conversion of the biomass into solid, liquid and gaseous fuels followed by the combustion process. Different thermo-chemical processes can be used to produce fuels from biomass, e.g. pyrolysis, gasification, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.

Pyrolysis is a thermo-chemical process in which organic material is decomposed in absence of oxygen in a solid residue (i.e. char), in a liquid product (i.e. pyro-oil) and in a gaseous phase. Due to the higher density of solid and liquid products, pyrolysis can be considered a densification process, which is supposed to decrease the transport burdens from the field to the final use of the bio-fuels. In particular slow pyrolysis allows for the production of similar amounts of liquid, solid and gaseous fractions. Light gases could supply the heat needed in the process.

The present activity is oriented to the analysis of biomass to energy routes based on pyrolysis processes. The experimental characterization of the pyrolysis process is carried out for different biomass species, in order to understand the yield and composition of the different product fractions, and in particular of bio-oil. Specific aspect as the thermal requirements of the pyrolysis process are also investigated.

In the perspective of bio-oil recovery, manipulation and upgrading, a further aim of the activity is the exploration of the hazard footprint of bio-oils.

Finally, the sustainability of bio-energy systems based on the pyrolysis process and their compatibility with the territory still is assessed based both on reference and experimental data produced in the activity. Conventional Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology as well as advanced methodologies for sustainability assessment are further developed and applied to the assessment of the biomass to energy supply and conversion chain.

Main publications

Cordella, M., Torri, C., Adamiano, A., Fabbri, D., Barontini, F., Cozzani, V. (2012). Bio-oils from biomass slow pyrolysis: a chemical and toxicological screening. Journal of Hazardous Materials 231-232:26-35

Cordella, M., Cozzani, V., Santarelli, F. (2010). Life cycle modeling and environmental impact assessment of energy production supply chains based on a biomass pyrolysis densification process. Proc. 7th European Congress on Chemical Engineering (ECCE-7), CSCHI ed., Prague (CZ)

Cordella, M., Barontini, F., Santarelli, F., Cozzani, V. (2008). Valutazione del rischio associato alla produzione ed allo stoccaggio di combustibili derivanti da biomasse. Atti del VI Convegno Nazionale Valutazione e Gestione del Rischio negli Insediamenti Civili ed Industriali, DIMNP, Pisa, p.93:1-12

Gomez, C., Velo, E., Barontini, F., Cozzani, V. (2009). Influence of Secondary Reactions on the Heat of Pyrolysis of Biomass. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 48:10222-10233

Rath, J., Wolfinger, M.G., Steiner, G., Krammer, G., Barontini, F., Cozzani, V. (2003). Heat of wood pyrolysis. Fuel 82:81-91

Sanchirico, R., Pinto, G., Pollio, A., Cordella, M., Cozzani, V. (2011). Toxicological Characterization of the Thermal Decomposition Products of Chemicals: a New Approach to an old Problem. Proc. 10th International Conference on Chemical and Process Engineering, Chem.Eng.Trans. 24:1123-1128, AIDIC: Milano

Tugnoli, A., Santarelli, F., Cozzani, V. (2011). Implementation of Sustainability Drivers in the Design of Industrial Chemical Processes. A.I.Ch.E. Journal 57:3063-3084

Tugnoli, A., Cozzani, V., Santarelli, F. (2007). A quantitative framework for sustainability assessment in the process industry. Proc. 6th European Congress of Chemical Engineering, EFCE Event n.669, Norhaven Book: Lyngby (DK); p.975-976

Research projects

Asse 1 PON-FESR 2007-2013. Attività I.1.1 Creazione di Tecnopoli - CIRI Energia ed Ambiente - UO Bioenergia