G.L. Hawkes, M.G. McKellar, R. Wood, M. Plum
A new process called Bio-Syntrolysis is being researched at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) investigating syngas production from renewable biomass that is assisted with high temperature steam electrolysis (HTSE). The INL is the world leader in researching HTSE and has recently produced hydrogen from high temperature solid oxide cells running in the electrolysis mode setting several world records along the way. A high temperature (~800°C) heat source is necessary to heat the steam as it goes into the electrolytic cells. Biomass provides the heat source and the carbon source for this process. Syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, can be used for the production of synthetic liquid fuels via Fischer-Tropsch processes. This concept, coupled with fossil-free electricity, provides a possible path to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and increased energy independence, without the major infrastructure shift that would be required for a purely hydrogen-based transportation system. Furthermore, since the carbon source is obtained from recyclable biomass, the entire concept is carbon-neutral. A process model flowsheet has been developed with a biomass gasification system integrated with an HTSE system. Syngas production efficiency of various renewable biomass types is discussed. A thorough economic analysis of alarge scale Bio-Syntrolysis plant will be discussed and shows synthetic diesel produced at $3.25 per gallon.